The end of Cold War and the disintegration of the erstwhile Soviet Union have
brought about a paradigm shift in India’s foreign policy from non-alignment to
that of active engagement with major regional and global powers. India, given
its large size, population, strategic location growing economic strength,
military prowess and scientific and technical capacity has gained a prominent
status in international affairs, which has attracted the attention of other
regional and global powers.
An Enduring Strategic Partnership of Two Decades
India and Ukraine enjoy an enduring strategic partnership based on trust, mutual
understanding, converging interests and common views on various regional and
global issues. From the strategic point of view, Ukraine is an important partner
for India as it continues to support India’s candidature for permanent
membership in an expanded UN Security Council. By the end of last year, India
and Ukraine agreed to forge a comprehensive partnership at par with India’s
engagement with the EU, US, Russia and others.
The State visit of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych in December 2012
took place during the 20th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of
diplomatic relations between the two countries. The President, accompanied by a
large official and business delegation, discussed ways to further enhance the
partnership between the two sides. The visit instilled fresh vigour into the
on-going bilateral strategic relationship. Both sides agreed to have regular
high level political contacts to maintain the momentum generated by the visit.
The two sides signed five major agreements in the fields of legal assistance,
defence cooperation, science and technology, nuclear safety and standardisation.
Defence and Security Partnership
Defence and security partnership holds great prospects for cooperation between
India and Ukraine. During the recent state visit by Ukrainian president, both
sides successfully concluded the defence cooperation agreement which would open
up new vistas of cooperation especially in the areas of research and
development; joint design and development of systems and equipment; export to
third countries; and transfer of technology. The agreement would also facilitate
regular dialogue between the two sides in new areas of cooperation and smooth
implementation of on-going projects.
Highlighting the significance of favours strong defence and security
cooperation, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh maintains, “Ukraine’s expertise in
defence technologies is well established and offers synergies with our own
defence technology base. The two nations were already undertaking defence
projects under bilateral cooperation and the latest defence agreement
establishes a new framework for expanding the ties.” The Agreement will provide
the much needed framework for expanding our military technical cooperation on an
institutionalised basis. It envisages mechanisms to be set up for promoting
defence cooperation. It will pave way for moving our relationship to a new
plane, that of joint research and development in the future.
With Ukraine having consolidated its military enterprises into bodies under
governmental control, New Delhi will find it much easier to forge a closer
defence relationship with the former. Ukraine can be an important partner for
India in terms of suppliers of military equipment. Under the 2009 agreement,
Ukraine has undertaken to overhaul and modernise Indian Air Force’s AN32 fleet
worth about $520 million.
Another area where India and Ukraine can cooperate is in the field of combating
the menace of terrorism. Both sides have developed a close understanding on the
threat posed by terrorism to regional and global peace and security. Both sides
condemned those who support terrorism and underscored that those aiding,
abetting and sheltering terrorists were as guilty of acts of terrorism as their
actual perpetrators. Besides, they stressed the need to work jointly towards
eliminating the menace of terrorism including exchange of information, data,
financing of terrorism and related matters.
Economic and Trade Partnership
India’s economic performance in the post-liberalisation era during the last two
decades has attracted the attention of major powers, including the United
States, Russia and EU. India has emerged as the twelfth-largest global economy
when measured by the size of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in market rate and
the fifth-largest global economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP).
India enjoys a good economic and trade partnership with Ukraine. Both sides have
a lot to gain out of the growing economic and trade partnership. Ukraine is
India’s second largest trading partner in the Commonwealth of Independent States
(CIS) region. Increased understanding in the bilateral political sphere has
enabled economic cooperation between the two sides to make significant progress
in the last two decades.
The major commodities of imports from Ukraine include chemicals, fertilisers,
ferrous metals, power equipment (including for nuclear reactors), steel,
steel-related equipment, aluminium, railway equipment, medical equipment,
vegetable oils, paper products, electrical equipments, etc. While the major
commodities of exports to Ukraine include pharmaceutical products, tobacco,
coffee, tea and spices, cosmetics and toiletries, natural rubber, bovine meat,
plantation crops, readymade garments, machinery and instruments, leather and
leather products, cotton yarn, fabrics and other textile items, agricultural
products, plastic and linoleum products, packaged edibles etc.
India-Ukraine merchandise trade has increased from a little over $1 billion in
2006-07 to over $2 in 2010-11 representing a two fold increase in a span of five
years (Table 1). Ukraine enjoys a favourable balance of trade with India.
It can be observed from the growth trends of India’s trade relations with
Ukraine that there has been a modest growth in the rate of exports and a large
increase in imports, thereby widening trade deficits. Our imports from Ukraine
exceeded exports, resulting in a huge trade deficit. This is something that must
During the recent state visit by Ukrainian president to India, both sides agreed
to make all-round, joint efforts to enhance bilateral trade. In a bid to
strengthen the present level of economic and trade engagement, both sides
emphasised the need to streamline the existing mechanism for trade and economic
dialogue on a regular basis and reaffirmed their intention to boost bilateral
investment. They also emphasised the need for the Intergovernmental Commission
to meet regularly on an annual basis and directed that its fifth session would
be held in 2013 in New Delhi.
Roadmap for Strategic Synergy
The future holds great prospects for the strategic partnership between India and
Ukraine. The commitment on part of both sides to strengthen cooperation in
multifaceted areas is much stronger today. Both sides agreed on the imperative
to develop a meaningful relationship of bilateral engagement by better
leveraging significant complementarities existing in the key areas of mutual
interest, such as civil nuclear cooperation, defence and space technology,
fertilizers, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and food security,
science and technology, industrial engineering and mining. They agreed to
enhance interaction at the political, official and business levels to achieve
this objective. The existing enormous potential to enhance ties between India
and Ukraine has impelled both sides to forge a comprehensive partnership and
draw up a joint action plan for this purpose.
On the economic front too, there is tremendous scope for diversification, which
could begin with both sides reducing both tariffs as well as non-tariff barriers
on their bilateral trade. Both sides have expressed interest in increasing the
volume of trade through more exports and increasing investments. All these
efforts must be supported by strong political commitment on both sides.
India and Ukraine enjoy a multifaceted partnership, which ranges from political
to economic and trade, from defence and security to science and technology, and
from culture to education. There is significant unexploited potential for
strategic, defence and economic cooperation between India and Ukraine. There is
an urgent need to convert this untapped potential into actual action by
prioritising growing relations with seriousness. Unless both sides attach
significant priority to their relations, further improvement is hard to come by.
In that case, regular dialogue and high-level official exchange of visits must
be continued and strengthened for gaining more understanding on expanding the
current level of engagement towards a stronger one.
The India-Ukraine partnership has improved significantly in recent times and is
expected to gain momentum in the years to come with definite regional and global