Russia – a friend in need and a friend indeed

(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)

Russia has once again reaffirmed its long-time tested friendship with India. Understanding the need for a multi-polar world and for collectively tackling global problems like financial crisis, energy and food security and climate change, it has said that India is “a deserving and strong candidate” for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.

Russia has also supported India’s full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and also called for lifting the moratorium on expanding the APEC membership. Feeling the need for Russia’s involvement in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) India has supported Russia joining that dialogue forum at the 8th ASM scheduled in Brussels in 2010.

These assurances and support to India came in the form of the joint declaration signed by both the countries on December 8, 2009 on the occasion of the visit of the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh to Russia.

The Strategic Partnership between the two countries calls for “building a new, democratic and fair multi-polar world order-based on collective approaches, supremacy of international law and adherence to the goals and principles enshrined in the UN Charter.”

Russia also assured India in bilateral energy cooperation, including that in the area of nuclear energy, cooperation in meeting the threat of extremely dangerous infectious and other contagious diseases, counter-terrorism, timely response to natural and man-made disasters and stability in Asia-Pacific, particularly in Afghanistan.

Both sides agreed to work for global non-proliferation and complete and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, ensuring international information security and preventing deployment of weapons in outer space.

The nature of cooperation and support and the role assigned to India by Russia far outweighs that given by the US president Obama to India during the recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to that country.

Apart from the traditionally strong cooperation in space and defence, India can benefit from Russia’s rich deposits of hydrocarbons and expertise in infrastructure building, particularly construction and engineering.

Russia can benefit from India’s expertise in pharmaceutical, information technology and communication sectors. There is natural complementary between the two countries in rough diamond trade. Russia is the largest producer and India is the centre for cutting and polishing. Both sides have agreed to boost bilateral merchandise trade to $ 20 billion by 2015.

The friendship between the two countries dates back to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947, after India got independence from UK’s dirty colonial regime. The multifaceted India-Russia relationship is not influenced by the engagement of these two countries with the rest of the world.

The early foundation of the India-Russia (then Soviet Union) friendship was laid by the first Prime Minister of India, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru who opted for keeping equidistance from two global power blocs – the United States and the Soviet Union – and co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement.

India-Russia relationship was further strengthened by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who liberated Bangladesh with Soviet Union’s moral support

(Editorial : Kisan Ki Awaaz Magazine)