Indian Democracy Society

India-Russia Political Relations In The 21st Century: A Critical Analysis

India-Russia Political Relations In The 21st Century

Jaspreet Kaur, a student of BA.LLB. (Hons) at School of Law, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara has written this article explaining about India-Russia Political Relations In The 21st Century


India is a country in South Asia that is formally known as the Republic of India. Its government is a constitutional republic that represents a population that is extremely varied, with thousands of ethnic groups and hundreds of languages. India is the world’s second most populous country, after China, with nearly one-sixth of the global population. It is the world’s seventh-largest country by area and the world’s most populous democracy. The majority of India is a peninsula, which means it is bordered on three sides by sea. It shares land borders with Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north, and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east, all of which are bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast.


The Russian Federation, sometimes known as Russia, is a transcontinental country that spans Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. With a population of 145.5 million people, it is the world’s largest country by area, the tenth most populated country, and the most populous country in Europe. The Russian border is the world’s longest, stretching 57,792 kilometres (35,910 miles). Russia has borders with 14 nations along its 20,139-kilometer land border: Poland and Lithuania, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, and North Korea. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Russia became an independent republic. Russia is a federation and a semi-presidential republic, according to its constitution.



India and the Soviet Union (USSR) had strong strategic, military, economic, and diplomatic cooperation during the Cold War. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia inherited its strong relationship with India, resulting in a special friendship between the two countries. This relationship is described as a “special and privileged strategic cooperation” by both Russia and India.

Since 1991, India’s relations with the Russian Federation have been cordial. The friendship between New Delhi and Moscow has been going on for a very long time. Despite adopting a non-alignment policy during the Cold War, India pursued a pro-Soviet foreign policy and kept a distance from the United States. There was no doubt that the United States could assist India economically and strategically during the Cold War era, but this was not done. Since 1971, India has received considerable aid from the Soviet Union. Global events pulled New Delhi and Moscow together throughout the Cold War era due to their shared perceptions.

During that period, India regarded itself as a Soviet follower, but Pakistan was firmly associated with the United States. Following the demise of the erstwhile USSR, Russia’s successor state became a very weak state in all respects. It was very questionable for India to get financial and technological support from an economically ailing old friend. The conclusion of the Cold War, according to Francis Fukuyama, marked the end of history. Ideological rigidity was quickly phased out of world politics following the end of the Cold War. Long-running antagonistic bloc politics came to an end with the end of the Cold War. Russia was no longer enslaved by ideologies.

Following the end of START-I and START-II between the United States and Russia, India realised that the level of antagonism between the two superpowers had been reduced[1]. That is why India chose to align itself with the United States while maintaining ties with Russia. However, in light of Moscow’s weaker diplomatic position, compromising approach, and lack of say in world politics, New Delhi decided to shake Washington’s diplomatic hand. Despite its tight ties with the United States, India has never sided with Russia on any diplomatic issue. So, we cannot forget the relations between India and Russia from a historical perspective.

Russia became a separate and independent country in 1991. In 1992 and 1993, India and Russia started working on their relations. India and Russia have created economic, technical, and defence ties. In certain circumstances, India has earned valuable experience, but in others, India has been forced to suffer. India, on the other hand, is attempting to balance its Russia policy with more complex equations as time passes. 


He is a Russian politician who has served as the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council since 2020. Medvedev was President of Russia from 2008 to 2012 and Prime Minister from 2012 to 2020.

HIS VIEWS: “Relations with India have always been, and will continue to be, one of our country’s top foreign policy priorities. Our friendship bonds are strong and full of sympathy, trust, and transparency. And, truth be told, they were never overshadowed by conflicts or confrontation. This understanding is, without a doubt, our peoples’ common legacy. It is highly respected in our country, as well as in Russia and India. And we have every reason to be proud of our countries’ deep, close ties.”


Pratibha Devi Singh Patil (born December 19, 1934) is an Indian politician and lawyer who served as India’s 12th president from July 25, 2007 to July 12, 2012. She is the country’s first and only female president. She is an Indian National Congress (INC) member.

HER VIEWS: “We are certain that India is in every Russian’s heart. In the same manner, Russia is a Homeland in our hearts, as people who share our sentiments, mutual respect, and unwavering friendship. Our friendship will live on!”


Pranab Kumar Mukherjee was a politician in India who served as the country’s 13th president from 2012 to 2017. Mukherjee was a top politician in the Indian National Congress and held numerous ministerial positions in the Indian government over his five-decade political career. Mukherjee served as Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012 before being elected President.

HIS VIEWS: “The India-Russia relationship is one of great friendship and mutual trust that is unaffected by changing political circumstances. At crucial times in India’s history, Russia has shown to be a pillar of strength[2]. This support will always be returned to India. Russia is and will continue to be our most vital defence and energy security partner, both in terms of nuclear energy and hydrocarbons.”


In August 1971, India and the Soviet Union signed the Indo–Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Collaboration, which stipulated mutual strategic cooperation. This was a significant change from India’s earlier Cold War stance of non-alignment, and it played a role in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war. The treaty was prompted by Pakistan’s growing ties with China and the United States, and it played a key role in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. The treaty had a 20-year term and was extended for another 20 years on August 8, 1991. During President Boris Yeltsin’s visit to New Delhi in January 1993, it was superseded by a 20-year Treaty of Indo-Russian Friendship and Cooperation, which followed the disintegration of the Soviet Union[3].


In July 1994, Indian Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao visited Russian President Boris Yeltsin to strengthen bilateral relations of the two countries in the fields of regional politics, defences, and economic cooperation. There were two declarations and nine agreements which were signed on issues such as mutual strategic interest, defence (including a $830 million credit), trade, and technology[4]. Also, an agreement to establish a Rs 40-crore joint venture to upgrade and service Russian aircraft has been reached.


India’s and Russia’s political relations have always been stable and amicable. Despite their weak economic foundations, the two countries have benefited from what observers refer to as a “problem-free atmosphere.” Since its inception in 2000, a total of 21 yearly summits have been held continuously, alternating in India and Russia. The leaders of the two countries also meet on a regular basis at meetings — or on the side-lines of meetings — of major international organisations such as the BRICS grouping, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the G20.

Indeed, Russia was the driving force behind India’s admission to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); India became a full member in 2017. One of the main reasons for this was Moscow’s wish to prevent China from dominating the organisation, a concern shared by the Central Asian republics as well. While China was initially opposed to the proposal, it eventually consented on the condition that Pakistan also join the international organisation.

The highest institutionalised dialogue mechanism is the Annual Summit Meeting between the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation. The two countries’ ministers have regular high-level encounters, indicating a deeper political cooperation between them. The most recent summit saw the establishment of a new “two plus two” mechanism, which brings both sides’ foreign and defence ministers together in a single platform[5].

The Strategic Partnership agreed between India and Russia in 2000 was the first major political endeavour between the two countries since the collapse of the Soviet Union[6]. Total 10 agreements were signed between the two countries. “The Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Russia, signed in October 2000, became a genuinely historic milestone,” President Vladimir Putin wrote in an article for the Hindu[7]. In a speech given during President Putin’s 2012 visit to India, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh concurred with his counterpart, saying, “President Putin is a treasured friend of India and the original creator of the India-Russia strategic partnership.” Both countries work closely together on issues of common national interest, such as at the United Nations, the BRICS, the G20, and the SCO. India should be given a permanent place on the United Nations Security Council, which Russia firmly supports.

In addition, Russia has spoken out in support of India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). It has also indicated interest in becoming an observer member of SAARC, of which India is a founding member. Russia is one of only two countries in the world (the other being Japan) that has an annual ministerial-level defence review arrangement with India.

The Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) is one of India’s largest and most comprehensive governmental mechanisms with any foreign country. It is attended by almost every department of the Indian government. Annually, two Inter-Governmental Commissions meet one on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological, and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), which is co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister (EAM) and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), and another on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC), which is co-chaired by Russian and Indian defence Ministers. Other ministerial-level meetings are held on an annual basis, ensuring frequent interaction between the two countries at various levels of government.


The Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) is the major organisation in charge of both countries’ governmental issues. It’s been called the “steering committee” of Indo-Russian ties by some. It is split into two sections, the first of which deals with trade, economics, science, technology, and cultural cooperation. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister and the Indian External Affairs Minister usually co-chair this meeting. The commission’s second section, Military Technical Cooperation, is co-chaired by the respective Defence Ministers of the two countries. IRIGC’s two components meet once a year.

Following are some of the important meetings which signify the political relationship between the two countries:


Both leaders decided to hold yearly Summit Meetings to push forward their bilateral political conversation during the President of the Russian Federation’s visit to India in October 2000. This visit by the Russian Federation’s President will be in line with this understanding, giving Indo-Russian relations a new impetus, greater depth, and content, and consolidating the positive trends that have emerged since the signing of the Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Russia in October 2000[8].

Continuity, trust, and mutual understanding characterise India-Russian Federation relations. Bilateral cooperation between India and Russia is comprehensive, encompassing political talks, commerce, and economic contact in key industries such as power, steel, oil, coal, and information technology, as well as science and technology, culture, space, atomic energy, and defence.


From November 11 to 13, 2003, India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, paid an official visit to the Russian Federation. Since the signing of the Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and the Russian Federation in the year 2000, when the Prime Minister of India visited the Russian Federation, the two nations have had yearly summits on a regular basis. During the visit, the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation signed a “Joint Declaration on Global Challenges and Threats to World Security and Stability.” The document has further reaffirmed the determination of the two countries to work closely together in tackling the new risks and challenges faced by India, Russia, and the globe as a whole, based on a deep knowledge of each other’s interests and concerns.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow from December 4-6, 2005 highlights the continued importance of Indo-Russian cooperation in a changing geopolitical scenario. Both ministers signed many agreements on space exploration, intellectual property, and solar physics. Dr. Manmohan Singh reaffirmed India’s support for Russia’s WTO (World Trade Organization) membership and stated that the bilateral Accession Agreement would be completed as soon as possible[9]. “Russia appreciates the fact that India has been granted observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” President Putin answered. In the Asia-Pacific area, we plan to cooperate closely with our Indian colleagues in international institutions.”


The Russian-Indian talks focused heavily on the development of military-technical cooperation. Mr. Medvedev stated that the key goal in this area is to shift away from traditional equipment sales and purchases and toward cooperative development and production. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev extended Moscow’s support for the Mumbai tragedy inquiry and urged for a coordinated counter-terrorism campaign.


Dr. Manmohan Singh, India’s Prime Minister, visited Russia on December 6, 2009 for the annual India-Russia Summit. The Prime Minister met with President Medvedev, and the two leaders discussed ways to expand their strategic relationship. India and Russia signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.


From December 15 to 17, 2011, India’s Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, paid an official visit to Moscow. During the visit, India and Russia planned to focus on strengthening their increasing connections in the fields of nuclear energy, defence, and economic cooperation. Along with this, India’s ambition for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been backed by Russia[10].


In 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to India for the 13th Annual India-Russia Summit. Ten bilateral agreements were inked during the summit, including the Indo-Russia Joint Investment Fund and a Joint Venture to establish an industrial site in India to produce Russian helicopters.


On December 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in India for a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The first-ever India-Russia 2+2 talks took place on the same day as bilateral meetings between the two nations’ foreign and defence ministers[11]. The debate was expected to include topics such as the continuing development of the two countries’ special and privileged strategic cooperation. The collaborative activity of the G20, BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are among the international concerns on the table.


To conclude, I want to bring it to the attention that India had a long and successful relationship with Russia. We cannot live our lives in isolation in this day and age. We must maintain Friendships with our international allies. This is the best tool in foreign policy for gaining the nation’s interest among all other developed countries in the world. India- Russia Relations are so strong that they are still standing together on India’s important issues. Whether in the fields of defence, science and technology, or pharmaceuticals, Russia has always been a big aid to India.

This good Friendship will assist India in forging positive relationships with its neighbours and thus will place their trust in us as well. The driving factors of the India- Russia special and privileged strategic cooperation are ” geopolitical compatibility, leadership trust, and popular emotion.” India and Russia both want a multipolar world in which “no single country can impose its agenda through dominance or military force.” Russia and India are on the same stand so far as the international politics and governmental affairs are concerned. They both believe that a country should be free from external interference.

Ordinary Russians regard India as a dependable friend with whom their own country has a trouble-free relationship. For their part, most Indians see Russia as a trusted ally who has never harmed India’s strategic interests in its seventy-five years of independence. However, problems are arising on a number of fronts, necessitating a rethinking, adjusting and upgrading of the relationship by both the India and Russian leaderships to make it suitable for the twenty first century. The frequent visits of ministers to each other’s countries clearly indicates the intention of both the countries to reach newer heights.

However, if we look into their relations from current scenario where the conflict between Russia- Ukraine is going on, then we can simply conclude that India has neither supported Russia nor it has gone against Russia. Hence, their relations are trustworthy. So, this According to my perspective, even if Russia’s relations with India are good, a significant effort is required to make them outstanding.




  • Cohen, S. P. (2005). India: Emerging power. Oxford University Press.
  • Dmitri Trenin, “Pressing Need to Tap Potential of Bilateral Ties,” in the A New Era: India-Russia Ties in the 21st Century, (Moscow: Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 2015).
  • Marc Lanteigne, “Russia, China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Diverging Security Interests and the Crimea Effect,” in the Russia’s Turn to the East. Global Reordering, eds. Helge Blakkisrud and Elana Wilson Rowe (Palgrave Pivot, Cham, 2018), 119-138.

[1] “(PDF) India-Russia Relations.” ResearchGate,

[2] Russia a Dependable Partner of India: President Pranab Mukherjee – IBNLive. 13 May 2015,

[3] “Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.” Wikipedia, 31 Mar. 2022. Wikipedia,

[4] “Indian Prime Minister to Visit Moscow.” UPI,

[5] “India–Russia Relations.” Wikipedia, 10 Apr. 2022. Wikipedia,

[6] “India-Russia Relation – Bilateral Ties, Political & Economic Relation | UPSC Notes.” BYJUS,

[7] Rekha, Chandra. The 2000 Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Russia.

[8] “When Russian President Vladimir Putin Came to Mumbai….” The Times of India, 28 Feb. 2022. The Economic Times – The Times of India,

[9][9] Prime Minister’s Moscow Visit | Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

[10] Chaudhury, Dipanjan Roy. “Russia Strongly Backs India’s Entry as Permanent Member of UN Security Council; Anti-Terror Convention.” The Economic Times, 23 June 2020. The Economic Times – The Times of India,

[11] DelhiNovember 26, Geeta Mohan New, et al. “Vladimir Putin to Visit Delhi on Dec 6 for 21st India-Russia Annual Summit.” India Today,


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