Russia and India: An Unlikely Collaboration
Russia has a long history of cooperation and coalescence with India. Within the last three years, there has been several developments between to the countries with the goal of creating economic and defensive growth. While relations between the two countries has not always been smooth, Russia still considers India one of its “top 5 friends” (Bagchi, Indrani and Tnn).
As of 2016, Russia was in talks to invest in Bollywood in order to bolster an economic tourism boost between itself and India. Russia and India have had good relations in the past, and the goal of this investment in Bollywood is to increase Indian tourism in Russia. With the “Indian outbound tourism market expected to grow to $40 billion by 2020, according [to] tourism industry experts,” this potential relationship would net Russia a lot of capital in a time when its economy has steadily been in decline since 2014 (TIMESOFINDIA.COM)
This economic decline has pushed Russia to take a $1 billion loan from India. The goal is to help Russia develop its Far East region for energy generation. India has a history of giving out loans, but these loans are usually given to countries with a weaker economy than Russia’s. India previously received a lot of aid from Russia but is now giving aid to them. With this investment, India aims to move away from dependence on the Middle East for energy. This investment could also allow Russia to decrease its dependence on China. This deal shows both countries’ continued interest in a Russian-Indian alliance. It could also help Indian workers find jobs in Russia and open Russia’s borders to more Indian visas. India ideally wants to help Russia be seen as a European power as opposed to its current impression as an Asian power.
India also wants to also encourage Russian investment and has invited Russian companies to talk about international opportunities between the two nations for long-term collaboration. The talks were spearheaded by the Indian Commerce and Industry Minister. The countries have discussed how to expedite goods exchange between the two countries, and “according to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, ‘two-way investments have already crossed the $30 billion target’ which the countries have set for 2025 (RT).” These investments are, among other things, notably tied to defense.
Russia supplies a large amount of defense equipment to India and is expected to for a long time. Russian defense can help amplify the Indian defense. Brahmos Pvt Ltd is an Indian-Russian created defense company that has had success with cruise missile production (Gupta). While India has been trying to gain a better relationship with the United States (Godbole), and has been considering turning more of its defense spending to the United States (Macias), “Russia remains and will remain a critical supplier of defence equipment to India for a long time. According to SIPRI, Russia accounted for 68% of India’s arms import during 2012-16 as compared to 14% from the US and 7.2% from Israel (Gupta).”
India and Russia have also recently collaborated on how to deal with terrorism. Russia and India together called for an “elimination of all safe havens of terrorists in South Asia.” Both sides exchanged viewpoints on what terrorism looks like on both of their fronts, and both came forward to condemn terrorism and to propose international collaboration for the elimination of terrorists (Chaudhury).
Bagchi, Indrani, and Tnn. “India among Top Five Friends, Beijing Moscow’s Top Ally: Russia Poll: India News – Times of India.” The Times of India, June 27, 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/delhi-still-among-top-five-friends-of-moscow-says-poll-by-russian-think-tank/articleshow/64768148.cms.
Bagchi, Indrani. “Far East Comes near: Modi’s Ambitious Move to Diversify India-Russia Relations.” The Economic Times. Economic Times, September 7, 2019. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/far-east-comes-near-modis-ambitious-move-to-diversify-india-russia-relations/articleshow/71027459.cms.
Chaudhury, Dipanjan Roy. “Russia Supports India for Elimination of Terror Safe Havens in South Asia.” The Economic Times. Economic Times, October 30, 2019. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/russia-supports-india-for-elimination-of-terror-safe-havens-in-south-asia/articleshow/71825284.cms.
Godbole, Shruti. “Future of the India-Russia Relationship Post Sochi Summit.” Brookings. Brookings, August 10, 2018. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2018/07/02/future-of-the-india-russia-relationship-post-sochi-summit/.
Gupta, Arvind. “Deeper Defence & Security Cooperation with Russia Enhances India’s Strategic Choices.” The Economic Times. Economic Times, December 22, 2017. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/deeper-defence-security-cooperation-with-russia-enhances-indias-strategic-choices/articleshow/62200689.cms.
IANS. “Bollywood Seen as Part of Russian Strategy to Woo Indian Tourists.” Business Standard. Business-Standard, May 5, 2016. https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/bollywood-seen-as-part-of-russian-strategy-to-woo-indian-tourists-116050500488_1.html.
Macias, Amanda. “India, Facing Sanctions for Russian Arms Deals, Says It Wants to Pivot Spending to the US.” CNBC. CNBC, May 23, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/23/india-to-pivot-spending-to-the-us-amid-russia-arms-deals-sanctions.html.
RT. “India Suggests Setting up Special Economic Zone for Russian Companies.” RT International, September 19, 2018. https://www.rt.com/business/438827-india-russia-economic-zones/.
TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: Sep 6, 2019. “India Goes from Taking to Giving Loans to Russia: India News – Times of India.” The Times of India. Times of India, September 6, 2019. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-goes-from-taking-to-giving-loans-to-russia/articleshow/71006873.cms.