Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is in New Delhi in what marks the first major diplomatic interaction between Russia and India since Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral coup in May. Rogozin arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday and will call on Prime Minister Modi in addition to several state ministers, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Rogozin’s visit will last two days.
According to The Times of India, Swaraj and Rogozin “held extensive talks on crucial bilateral issues including trade and energy security.” The two leaders additionally discussed regional and international issues. Rogozin’s visit is expected to lay the groundwork for a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi before the end of the year. Rogozin’s trip additionally picked up on bilateral threads that were initiated by India’s last government. In particular, Russia and India continued deliberations on civil nuclear cooperation, paving the way for Russia to sign the contract for the third and fourth units of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP).
Cooperation on the KNPP was initiated under Manmohan Singh’s government. India’s nuclear liability law has been all but formally accepted by Russia. Rogozin and Swaraj will follow up on the general framework agreement signed between the two sides in April on the KNPP. The first two units of KNPP are expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.
Rogozin has been a particularly vehement critic of the West’s involvement in and response to the Ukrainian crisis. Following Russia’s diplomatic isolation from the West, including expulsion from the G8, Rogozin is keen to maintain positive relations with India. India purchases around 75 percent of its defense equipment from Russia and thus the relationship is built on strong mutual interests. To this end, Rogozin will meet with India’s new defense minister Arun Jaitley and national security adviser Ajit Doval.
There is speculation that Rogozin will be grilled by Indian officials on Russia’s recent decision to lift its self-imposed arms embargo on Pakistan. Writing in The Hindu, Suhasini Haidar notes that “Rogozin is likely to face some tough questions over Moscow’s decision to sell Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan.” Furthermore, the two sides may discuss the potential leasing of a second nuclear submarine to the Indian navy from Russia. Indian officials may approach Rogozin about Russia’s position on the recent crisis in Iraq where both India and Russia have vital security interests. On Tuesday, 40 Indians were reported to have been kidnapped in Mosul by ISIS militants.