The Modi-Putin summit at Sochi is expected to take stock of Bharat-Russia relations. What are the business opportunities in Russia for Hindu businessmen?
The agenda-less Modi-Putin summit comes on the heels with the Bharat-China dialogue held in Wuhan a few weeks back.
Former Bharteeya ambassador to Russia PS Raghavan says that it is a very good idea for both the two nations to have frequent and regular consultations with each other given the fact that the geopolitical order is changing very quickly.
This summit called at the instance of Putin, is also expected to reset the bilateral ties. There have been several observations in media and political circles that Russia and Bharat are not on the same plane on several issues. The Opposition parties have blamed the NDA government for allowing Russia and Pakistan to come closer at the cost of Bharat.
Mr. Modi is meeting Vladimir Putin in the shadow of the American sanctions imposed on Russia in April 2018. These sanctions might impact Bharat’s business ties with Russia.
Bharat- Russia trade
Some experts say that Bharteeya banks which lend or finance companies that are trading with Russian firms might be banned from operating in the US. Other experts say that the impact of these sanctions on Bharteeya firms would be minimal.
Total trade between Bharat and Russia is a little under USD 8 billion and the latter does not count among our major trade partners.
There has been little change in the value of exports from Bharat to Russia (Ministry of Commerce and Industry)
On the contrary, Bharat imports more from Russia. Please have a look at these figures from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The trade balance is in favor of the Russians
The Observer Research Foundation says that the impact of the American sanctions on Bharat’s trade with Moscow would be felt in the long run, not immediately.
Interestingly, Russia is one of the biggest arms suppliers to Bharat. Even as this article is being written, there are arms deals worth USD 15 billion in the pipeline. Is America trying to replace Russia as our biggest arms supplier?
ONGC Videsh is one of the stakeholders in Russian Sakhalin oilfields where Exxon Mobile, a leading American oil firm is also a partner. We bought this stake to ensure our national energy security.
The current US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is a former CEO of Exxon and some observers believe that the Americans would not like to upset the applecart in Sakhalin.
Pakistan- Russia relations
Over the years, Pakistan and Russia have come closer than before. A few years back, the Russian Defence Minister had visited Pakistan and signed several weapons-related agreements. It was around the time when the United States had become Bharat’s largest arm’s exporter replacing Russia. This development had put the Bharat- Russia relations under the cloud.
However, the two countries seem to have wriggled out of this tricky situation. In December 2014, a USD 40 billion nuclear power deal was struck between Bharat and Russia. In addition, Russia also indicated that it might be interested in manufacturing the Kamov-3 military helicopters in Bharat.
From the point of view of commercial business opportunities, Bharteeya businessmen may like to join hands with their Russian counterparts in arms, energy and nuclear power industries.
Lastly, since Bharat and Russia are members of BRICS, it is quite possible that the Modi-Putin summit at Sochi would focus on this organization too.
To conclude, it is to early to predict the outcome of the Sochi summit. We can only see the results after a considerable time has passed.