The Indian ambassador to Russia, Venkatesh Varma, recently announced that India could collaborate with Russia to launch new projects in Africa and the Middle East.

His statement came after following the success of a joint Indo-Russia nuclear power project in Bangladesh, leading to that the two countries could join hands to build more nuclear plants abroad.

Russia – a leading player in the international commercial nuclear energy market, offering turnkey projects to over 33 countries globally – has been a key partner for India’s own nuclear energy program.

In fact, the nuclear plant at Kudankulam in South India was built with Russian assistance.

Furthermore, since 2018, Indian companies have been working in collaboration with Russia’s state atomic energy agency, Rosatom in building two nuclear power plants at Rooppur in Bangladesh. The project is expected to be completed by 2023 at a cost of $13 billion.

News of more possible joint nuclear projects abroad clearly shows a deepening of the partnership in civilian nuclear energy – and also adds a new dimension to the Russian-Indian relationship in general.

India’s longstanding friendship with Russia that dates back to the Soviet era has evolved over the years.

Both countries share a common view for a multi-polar world order, and bilateral strategic cooperation that has expanded over the years now encompasses defense, civil nuclear energy, space, science, technology, hydrocarbons, trade and investment.

In recent years, the relationship seems to have gained a qualitatively new character, marked by several high-level interactions and a close personal rapport shared by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This is also evident in developments such as the recent procurement of high-value defense equipment by India, in particular, the state-of-the-art S-400 missile defense system which New Delhi acquired despite the threat of US sanctions.

Significantly, India is the largest buyer of Russian arms, with exports touching $14.5 billion last year and over 60% of Indian military inventory is of Russian origin.

Cooperation in the field of hydrocarbons has also been stepped up with Indian companies making large investments in Russian regions where India has expressed interest in mining for resources, like the Far East and the Arctic.

The evolution of Indo-Russia ties and the timing of the announcement for nuclear collaboration in Africa and West Asia, is likely to raise concerns in Washington DC, as preparations are underway for US President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India.

The United States, India’s other key strategic partner, is keen to cultivate India as its “alliance partner” in the Indo-Pacific region to counter growing Chinese influence.

RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2020.

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