National security advisor Ajit Doval will hold talks with Russian officials in Moscow on Monday on counter-terrorism and security issues against a background of a thaw in ties between Russia and the United States that could redefine the relationship between the two countries.
Doval will meet Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, a confidant of President Vladmir Putin. The visit is seen as part of Indian efforts to gauge the possible realignments on key security and foreign policy issues as national capitals try to figure out the priorities of the Trump administration.
In New York last month, Doval had met his American counterpart Michael Flynn before he formally took charge under the Trump administration. Flynn, like Doval, is an intelligence expert.
During his meetings with the Russians, Doval is expected to focus on anti-terrorism issues such as the fight against Islamic State and situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Russia has remained our trusted partner and high-level interactions help two sides exchange notes on all major developments including the evolving regional security architecture,” an Indian official said.
For Indian officials, a realignment of Russia-US ties is welcome as it would wean Moscow away from the deeper strategic embrace of China. Those who believe in a possible realignment are going by the right optics set in motion by both Moscow and Washington.
“The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair,” a White House statement said after the phone conversation between Trump and Putin. Though it would sound unreasonable to expect Trump would trample over ties with China that hinges on huge economic interest, India hopes better Russia-US ties would bring more balance to issues that Beijing aggressively pushes in the region.