Modi to hold informal summit with Putin

Modi to hold informal summit with Putin

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold an “informal summit” with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on the coast of Black Sea on May 21. Reuters file photo

After holding an “informal summit” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now set to do it again, this time with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Modi will hold an “informal summit” with Putin in Sochi on the coast of Black Sea on May 21, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Monday.

India's initiative to have an informal top-level engagement with Russia just weeks after a similar summit between the Prime Minister and the Chinese President apparently signalled New Delhi's move towards a rebalance in its ties with the big powers.

“This will be an important occasion for the two leaders to exchange views on international matters in a broad and long-term perspective with the objective of further strengthening our Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership (between India and Russia),” Raveesh Kumar, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

India and Russia agreed to have an “informal summit” between the two leaders during the recent visit of Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to Moscow. Doval and Gokhale called on Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Government on May 10 and finalised the date for the "informal summit".

Modi and Putin will meet informally in Sochi almost four months ahead of the regular annual summit they are expected to hold in India. The two leaders will also have an opportunity to hold a bilateral meeting when they will travel to Qingdao ìn eastern China to attend the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation next month.

Modi-Putin "informal summit" is expected to add new momentum in New Delhi's decades-old relations with Moscow, which have of late come under stress for several reasons — India's growing ties with America including in the fields of defence and nuclear cooperation, Russia's move to build closer ties with Pakistan in response, India-US strategic convergence in Indo-Pacific and Russia's closer ties with China.

While the prospects of Russia-China-Pakistan axis already caused unease in New Delhi, India's ties with Russia is likely to face a new challenge over the growing acrimony between Moscow and the West. New Delhi is also concerned about the possibility that India's military hardware procurement from Russia could make it liable for actions by US President Donald Trump's administration in Washington under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA.