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Putin greets Kovind & Modi; Russian Foreign Ministry describes India dialogue very productive

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Russia’s foreign ministry has scoffed at recent suggestions of strains in ties with traditional ally India. The Russian President sent his new year greetings to his Indian counterpart as well as the PM emphasising on special and privileged strategic partnership.

The ministry, in its annual report for 2020 released on Tuesday, asserted that the Russian-Indian dialogue was very productive, including within multilateral formats this year. It noted the Russian-Indian Defence Industry Conference held in February and the INDRA NAVY-20 joint maritime exercise.

It also refers to the Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting held days after the Galwan incident and indicated the back-channel role played by Moscow to reduce tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.

Russia’s chairmanship of the RIC group resulted in the adoption of a joint press release that emphasised the importance of interaction among the three countries for global economic growth, peace and stability, according to the report.

In his greetings Putin noted that Russia and India were connected by relations of privileged strategic partnership, which, despite this year’s difficulties and problems, including the coronavirus pandemic, are developing confidently. Putin stressed that the two countries maintained a substantive political dialogue and carry out promising joint projects in various spheres, while cooperation within the SCO and BRICS yielded good results. The Russian President also expressed hope that next year Russia and India would continue to work towards stepping up constructive bilateral cooperation as well as coordinating efforts to address topical issues on the regional and global agendas.

It may be recalled Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh visited Moscow twice this year. Foreign minister S Jaishankar also travelled to the Russian capital in September, where he had a meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.

The Indian military contingent participated in the 75th Victory Day parade in Moscow and the Russian government has been making military supplies for the army deployed at friction points along the Line of Actual Control. Other senior officials made trips to Moscow through the year and India backed Russia’s presidency for BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The ministry’s reference to India-Russia ties comes in the backdrop of certain reports that alleged a strain in ties between the two countries.

Last week, in response to a media report regarding the India-Russia annual summit, official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava asserted, “The India-Russia annual summit did not take place in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was a mutually agreed decision between the two governments. Any imputation otherwise is false and misleading. Spreading false stories in important relationships is particularly irresponsible.” Russian ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev, in his reaction, too said the media report was far from reality.

This year was special for India and Russia ties as the two countries celebrated 20 years of strategic partnership and 10 years of special and privileged strategic partnership.

PM Narendra Modi and Putin, who share excellent personal chemistry, have held several telephonic conversations through the year. Senior ministers and officials from Russia are expected to visit India early next year.

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