India, Russia share time-tested relation: MEA

PTI file photo.

As Moscow opened the doors of its military training facilities for officers of the armed forces of Pakistan, New Delhi stressed that India's time-tested relations with Russia were based on respect for each other's sensitivities.

“Our (India-Russia) relations are based on equal trust and respect for each other's core interests and sensitivities,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said. He was responding to a query from a journalist on New Delhi's view on the pact, which Moscow and Islamabad inked on Tuesday paving the way for military officials of Pakistan to train in Russia.

Russia also inked a naval cooperation agreement with Pakistan recently.

The pacts signalled the growing defence cooperation between Russia and Pakistan. They were inked just three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin had held an informal summit at Sochi on the coast of Black Sea and agreed to deepen the Special and Strategic Partnership between the two nations. Modi and Putin will again meet in New Delhi later this year for the annual India-Russia summit.

New Delhi refrained from airing its reservation over the latest move by Russia to step up its military cooperation with Pakistan. It, however, subtly indicated that Russia should respect the "sensitivities" of India even as it stepped up its military cooperation with Pakistan.

The MEA spokesperson underlined that India and Russia shared a “time-tested relation”. “They are our privileged strategic partners,” he said, adding that the two nations had a special relationship. He also said that the relationship between India and Russia had acquired a new dimension after the “informal summit” between Prime Minister and Russian President in Sochi in May.

“Let me add that our relation with Russia remains excellent and it is independent of the relation with any other country,” said Kumar.

Russia has since long been the largest supplier of military hardware to India and has been maintaining its defence cooperation with Pakistan at a very low level.

India’s growing ties with the United States over the past few years, however, prompted Russia to respond to Pakistan’s overtures. Moscow and Islamabad started discussing the sale of Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan in 2014 and the delivery of the choppers purportedly begun early this year. Russia in November 2015 also inked a defence cooperation agreement with Pakistan and the two nations had their first military drill in September-October, 2016 – just weeks after India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the United States.

New Delhi had earlier conveyed to Moscow its unease over growing Russia-Pakistan ties. During a bilateral meeting on the sideline of the BRICS (a bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Goa in October 2016, Modi had subtly cautioned Putin against scaling up Russia's defence ties with Pakistan. After he and Putin had witnessed the signing of three major defence deals and 13 other pacts for cooperation in other sectors, Modi had referred to an old adage in Russia, which meant: “An old friend is better than two new friends”.

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India, Russia share time-tested relation: MEA

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