Thursday, May 30

Interview of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to India D.E.Alipov to the International Life magazine, April 27, 2024.

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Question: On March 22, a terrible terrorist attack took place at the Crocus City Hall concert hall in the Moscow region. Prime Minister N. Modi called the incident a “heinous terrorist act.” How did the Indian society itself react? AND the media?

Answer: Indian friends unanimously condemned this bloody crime. Along with Prime Minister N. Modi, leaders of the country’s largest political parties, government and public figures made similar statements. Ordinary citizens who brought flowers and candles to the Embassy in memory of the victims of this terrible tragedy did not stand aside. We have received many letters with words of support and solidarity with the Russian people and expressing categorical rejection of this monstrous act.

The Indian media closely followed the incident. The statements of Russian officials were broadcast. The publications noted that the attack on the civilian population cannot be justified by anything, and that those involved in the terrorist attack should be punished with the strictest punishment.

Question: What are your expectations for Indian-Russian relations and business cooperation between the two countries in 2024?

Answer: Russian-Indian cooperation continues to steadily gain momentum. This is typical for political contacts, trade and economic cooperation, and, what is especially pleasant, for humanitarian ties.

We expect the active dialogue between the leaders to continue in the spirit of the friendly understanding that has developed between them. On March 20, Indian Prime Minister N. Modi called Russian President Vladimir Putin and warmly congratulated him on his convincing election victory. In general, the established practice of close regular contacts between the heads of the two states has been and remains a distinctive feature of the Russian-Indian particularly privileged strategic partnership, sets the vector for the entire range of bilateral relations and coordination on the world stage, and joint work to move towards a more equitable multipolar world order.

Business cooperation demonstrates favorable dynamics. I consider the record volume of trade turnover achieved by us to be a landmark success – by the end of 2023 it exceeded 65 billion US dollars (according to Indian statistics). Exports of Indian products to Russia are gradually increasing, which is important for correcting the imbalance in trade. Russia’s status as India’s main and most reliable partner in the field of energy and food security has been consolidated. We continue to deepen cooperation in strategic areas such as peaceful atom and military-technical cooperation.

Russia is interested in forming a free trade zone between the EAEU and India, which is designed to eliminate trade barriers and expand mutual market access. A close dialogue continues on financial issues and the interconnection of payment systems, the construction of independent logistics routes with an emphasis on the North-South MTC and the Vladivostok–Chennai sea corridor. We are actively encouraging mutual business missions and interregional contacts. The first bilateral educational summit on April 11-12 in New Delhi showed good results. A traditional festival of Russian culture will be held in India at the end of the year. This year, together with India, we are celebrating the anniversaries of the birth of Nicholas and Svyatoslav Roerich, the 40th anniversary of the flight of the first Indian cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma as part of the Soviet crew. A broad program of events is being effectively implemented within the framework of Russia’s current BRICS presidency.

Question: In the last four quarters, among the world’s leading economies, India has demonstrated the highest growth rates – more than 7 percent. International investors are optimistic about this South Asian country. Does Russian business manage to gain a foothold in India? Could you tell us about specific projects that are currently being implemented in India by Russian businesses?

Answer: India is on the rise now. It is confidently moving towards accelerated economic and technological modernization, becoming one of the global production hubs, leaders in promising areas, including renewable and hydrogen energy, semiconductors, and space. The country’s capacious domestic market and targeted government measures contribute to attracting foreign investment and creating modern production sites using advanced technologies.

Russia is among those who are actively involved in this process. In some sectors, we are out of competition, for example, we remain the only ones who practically implement agreements with India on the construction of nuclear power plants – we are talking about six blocks of the Kudankulam station in the state of Tamil Nadu. A number of related initiatives are being implemented in the areas of training specialists, research on the fuel cycle, and we are conducting a dialogue on small modular reactors. The successful experience of cooperation in this area allows us to extend it to third countries: together with India, we are implementing a project to build the Ruppur NPP in Bangladesh.

In the field of energy, Russia does not only supply crude oil. Much attention is paid to projects in the fields of petrochemistry and oil refining. A joint venture for the production of butyl rubber in Gujarat is operating as planned. Investments of Indian companies are widely represented on the Russian market – 20% of shares in the Sakhalin-1 project, 49.9% of shares in the Vankor field and 29.9% in the Taas-Yuryakh project. Imperial Energy Group operates in the Tomsk region. In terms of expanding investments, there are good prospects in both Russia and India.

Cooperation in the field of metallurgy is actively developing. Last year, NLMK PJSC’s transformer steel plant in the state of Maharashtra reached its design capacity. In the field of electronic industry, the second phase of the MGK Lighting Technologies project is being implemented, which provides for an increase in the capacity of the lighting equipment manufacturing plant in Karnataka to 150 thousand lamps per month.

RTS NGO is actively involved in the modernization of 24 airports in India, supplying radio equipment for the instrument landing system.

The Russian Technonicol has successfully gained a foothold in the Indian market of roofing, waterproofing and thermal insulation materials, creating a wide distribution network. The company intends to expand its presence here by localizing part of the production.

The implementation of contracts signed in 2021 between UZTM-KARTEX Management Company LLC and the Indian company Coal India Ltd for the supply of 16 excavators continues.

Our enterprises are confidently present in the sectors of railway engineering, shipbuilding, infrastructure, space, innovation and start-ups, ICT, artificial intelligence, diamond and diamond complex, fintech, tourism, etc. We strongly encourage the diversification of trade and economic partnership – this is critically important for increasing settlements in national currencies.

Question: What advice would you give to Russian entrepreneurs who are thinking about doing business in India? What mistakes could you warn them against?

Answer: In a certain sense, Russian business is rediscovering India. The number of requests from Russian companies for assistance has increased 2.5 times in recent years. Interest in India is increasingly becoming long-term, aimed at not only entering, but also staying in the highly competitive local market. We support him in every possible way. The Trade Mission, representative offices of the Russian Export Center, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russia organize their work accordingly. The Business Council for Cooperation with India provides great assistance.

It is important to keep in mind that India is now, figuratively speaking, spoiled by attention from global business. Its market has to be actively fought for, but the dividends are also high. The failures that can happen should not disappoint. It is necessary to build long-term cooperation with India. Things are not done “on the spur of the moment” here. Personal contacts and constant live communication play an important role.

Question: What would you say about Russian-Indian relations in the field of military-technical cooperation? How do you assess the chances of Russian manufacturers to “fit in” with the “Make in India” program? Should we expect that within the framework of this initiative, the production of new Russian military equipment in India or joint Indian-Russian military equipment can begin?

Answer: Thanks to the groundwork created since the middle of the last century, military-technical cooperation with New Delhi remains one of the cornerstones of our strategic partnership. India is diversifying ties in this area, but Russia continues to make a key contribution to building Indian defense capabilities. We account for at least 50% of the local arms market.

This is largely due to our understanding of Indian specifics and timely response to changing requirements. It was Russia that became a pioneer in the localization and transfer of military technologies, as well as the creation of joint ventures, on which the “Make in India” and “Self-sufficient India” initiatives are now based. The most successful example is the BrahMos missile systems. Almost 1,000 T-90 tanks and 300 Su-30MKI aircraft with localization from 70 to 90 percent have already been produced under licenses in India. There is a joint venture “Indo-Ration Rifles” for the production of AK-203 submachine guns. We are building up dialogue in the field of R&D, as well as on a number of promising projects. This work is ongoing. There is a high level of mutual interest, especially since we not only do not give reason to doubt our reliability, but, unlike our Western partners, we do not set political conditions.

Question: India is showing a growing interest in Russia’s Arctic projects. What areas of cooperation with Moscow in the Arctic are priorities for New Delhi?

Answer: India has a very serious interest in the Arctic. Both in scientific and economic areas. New Delhi is an observer in the Arctic Council, opposes its politicization and supports the resumption of its full-fledged activities.

In the scientific field, a dialogue between relevant institutions is systematically developing, including on issues of global climate change, atmospheric and geosciences, glaciology, as well as polar biology. Indian scientists are testing the hypothesis about the influence of the Arctic on the dynamics of the monsoon, in particular, in the South Asian region. On these tracks, the Research Institute of the Arctic and Antarctic (St. Petersburg) and the Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after Lomonosov (Arkhangelsk) They actively cooperate with the Indian National Center for Polar and Oceanic Research (NCPOR), the Center for Polar Research at M. Gandhi University, and the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT).

We see great prospects in intensifying joint work in the fields of energy and infrastructure. Against the background of the partners’ interest in large hydrocarbon projects, we invite them to join the Vostok Oil cluster. As part of the negotiation process on the Vladivostok–Chennai sea corridor, the possibilities of deepening India’s investment presence in the development of coal deposits and other initiatives for the extraction of natural resources are being considered. We urge local economic operators to take a closer look at the benefits of practical activities for the development of the Northern Sea Route. In this context, we see New Delhi’s growing interest in mastering the competencies of polar navigation, creating an Arctic-class research vessel with our support, as well as training specialists to work in polar waters.

Question: How would you characterize India’s policy towards the Ukrainian crisis? Is official New Delhi harmed by its restrained rhetoric regarding the conflict over Ukraine?

Answer: India deeply understands the genesis of the Ukrainian conflict and is closely monitoring its development, consistently advocating a diplomatic settlement. Adheres to a principled equidistant position, which allows it to continue a constructive dialogue with both Russia and the West. Since the beginning of its operation, it has adequately withstood the impudent attempts of Westerners to force us to condemn our country, stop cooperating with us and join anti-Russian sanctions. New Delhi firmly defends its legitimate right to develop contacts with all countries based on legitimate national interests and at the same time points to the double standards of Washington and Brussels, which, for example, do not hesitate to buy Russian energy resources, but criticize others for it. Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has repeatedly stressed that for India, relations with Russia are a constant, independent of the changing market conditions. In the current circumstances, Indian partners, for whom encroachment on their sovereignty in making foreign policy decisions is unacceptable, consider it justified to choose a course towards “strategic autonomy” and maintaining a balance in working with all centers of power.

If we consider this crisis as a catalyst for geopolitical transformation and the formation of a multipolar world order, then India, not succumbing to Western adventures, has been able to significantly increase its potential as one of the leading economic centers and strengthen its weight in international affairs during this time. In this regard, it receives broad support among other dynamically developing countries in promoting the reform and democratization of global governance and rightfully considers itself one of the leaders of the Global South. The West has to take this into account. The futility of the efforts of the Group of Seven to “Ukrainize” the agenda of the Group of Twenty during the Indian presidency in 2023 was very indicative. New Delhi did not allow the initial financial and economic mandate of the forum to be undermined, and this became an unconditional evidence of the increased Indian authority in the world.

Question: On March 28, the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, D. Kuleba, arrived in India to meet with his colleague S. Jaishankar and discussed with him, among other things, the ultimatum “formula” of Kiev. How is she perceived in New Delhi?

Answer: India is regularly invited to Kiev-sponsored “gatherings” within the framework of the “Copenhagen format”, in which Westerners are trying to involve as many countries of the Global South as possible in order to legitimize Zelensky’s “plan”.

I am sure that New Delhi is fully aware that this “formula” is impassable and has nothing to do with the world. The Indians emphasize that any attempts at a political settlement of the conflict around Ukraine without Russia’s participation and taking into account its interests are futile.

Question: How do you see the future of Russian-Indian relations?

Answer: I am convinced that our cooperation will confidently move forward in step with the times on the basis of our traditional mutual respect and mutual consideration of interests. Based on the foundations created over 77 years of diplomatic relations, we will expand the areas of mutually beneficial cooperation and consistently achieve new results. To strengthen coordination in world affairs and jointly fight common challenges. To increase interpersonal contacts and humanitarian ties. This fully meets the needs of the peoples of our friendly countries.



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