Rise of Global Actors


Russia and India signed long-term defence, nuclear energy and oil delivery agreements during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi earlier in December as part of Russia’s broader shift towards Asia. This is a clear indication that Moscow’s relations in the East are going from strength to strength, insist Prof Leonid Fituni and Prof Irina Abramova

Judging by practical outcomes, President Putin's latest visit to India can be considered as one of the most successful in recent years. Despite attempts by some external players to prevent the intensification of Indo-Russian cooperation, Moscow and New Delhi reconfirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership and signed 25 agreements. The visit took place against the background of increased imbalances in the global economy and deteriorating international security situation.

Pivot to Asia

While global power projections by old actors have experienced principal reconfiguration, the Asia Pacific region, as the most rapidly developing geopolitical zone, has emerged as a foreign policy priority for Russia. Not only is the global economic and political centre of gravity shifting to that region, the direction and forms of humanity’s future development largely depend on it. Rapid economic growth has already turned East Asia into the world’s third largest production, distribution and consumption centre alongside the United States and the EU, as well as the biggest holder of international reserves and a global investor.

Russia's intensification of political and economic relations with Asian countries has already become one of the most important components of the country’s national strategy. As the core of the world economy and politics objectively shifts to the Asia-Pacific region, there emerges a huge potential for cooperation with Asian countries in implementing Russia’s 21st-century national project – the development of Siberia and the Far East.

Russia’s Reliable Partner

India is the oldest and, probably, the most reliable Russian counterpart in the region. Diplomatic relations between the USSR and India were established on April 13, 1947. The agreement base was upgraded after the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991, when over 200 bilateral documents were signed. The principal document, which establishes the framework of Indo-Russia relations, is the 1993 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between India and the Russian Federation.

A unique feature of Russian-Indian relations is intense political contacts. High-level talks and meetings are held annually to discuss key areas of the two countries’ cooperation, as well as current international and regional issues. During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to India in October 2000, the Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Russian Federation and India was signed.

Energising Nuclear Cooperation

During President Putin’s latest visit, the emphasis was on economic, technical and military cooperation. The signed agreements and contracts cover sensitive areas such as nuclear power and military technical cooperation. An agreement was reached on the construction of two reactors at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. Moreover, during the next 20 years, Russia will build not less than 12 units in India, fully compliant or even exceeding the safety standards introduced after the Fukushima disaster. According to the head of the Russian state corporation Rosatom, Sergey Kiriyenko, the two sides ‘agreed upon exchanging confidential data and discoveries in nuclear science and are ready to cooperate in the field of uranium mining and enrichment’.

Deepening Military-Technical Cooperation

The leaders of the two countries agreed to continue strengthening the traditions of close military technical cooperation between Russia and India, setting forward new projects, including creating joint production facilities and transferring technologies. Contracts for supply of helicopter equipment and components for the licensed assembly of the Russian Su-30 warcraft were signed.

India remains Russia’s largest military-technical cooperation partner. Alongside supplying the country with readymade models of weapons, Russia continues to assist the development of Indian military-industrial production and development. Russia has supplied India with $4.78 billion worth of weapons and military equipment in 2013.

Apart from arms exports, Russia and India cooperate in the development of new military equipment. BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture of both the countries, developed BrahMos, the first-of-its-kind short range ramjet supersonic cruise missile. India also leases Russian equipment, such as the Akula-class, nuclear-powered submarine. According to Russian sources, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will pay an official visit to India in 2015.

Since the beginning of the 2000s, the dynamic development of Russia and India (as well as other BRICS nations and several other sovereign actors from the former Third World) has inevitably prompted them to take more active and independent part in world economic processes. The increasing participation of leading regional players in world processes is gradually changing both financial and international political components of today’s world order. Through the intensification of mutual cooperation, these countries increase their joint weight as full-fledged world power centres, thus paving the way for a more democratic, multipolar world, free from political and economic diktats of old global actors.

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Prof (Dr) Leonid Fituni and Prof (Dr) Irina Abramova

Prof (Dr) Leonid Fituni is Director of the Centre for Strategic and Global Studies and Deputy Director, Institute for African Studies Russian Academy of Science. He is President of the Independent Centre for Documentation on Liberty, Democracy and Justice (Moscow).

Prof (Dr) Irina Abramova is Deputy Director of the Institute for African Studies (IAS), Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. She is also Full Professor, Department of Global Problems and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

This article is based on the results of Research Project No 14-07-00028, executed by the authors with financial support of the Russian Foundation for Humanities.

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