Prime Minister Narendra Modi began Day 2 of his visit to Moscow with a tour of EMERCOM, the Russian national crisis management centre, where he interacted with officials at their state-of-the-art office.
‘Ready for emergency response. 240000 employees from EMERCOM r on operational duty daily, using 62000 equipment units,” tweeted foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Thursday.
From there the PM is expected to arrive at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Alexandrovski Cad, adjacent the Kremlin. Here he will place a wreath. Following this, he will go to Kremlin for a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Green Room.
This will be followed by a delegation-level luncheon at St Catherine Hall. At 4pm, Modi will have a meeting with Indian and Russian CEOs and business heads at Alexandrovsky, at Kremlin.
This will be followed by a signing of bilateral pacts.
The last event for the day will be the ‘Friends of India’ event at the expocentre in Moscow.
There is speculation that Modi will leave for Kabul but it has not yet been confirmed.
There are a lot of expectations on defence and nuclear fronts, with military material exchange and trade being the traditional backbone of India-Russia ties. Economic and trade components of India-Russia ties pale when compared to the strong decades-long military friendship the two countries share.
“As far as economic ties are concerned, there is a lot of potential but the challenge is to find the way, to realize it. Trade was huge during the Soviet era and after its collapse it has not been able to reach that level,” says Fred Weir, who was Hindustan Times’ Moscow correspondent for two decades and is currently with the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor.
India is expected to discuss the modalities of a free trade agreement with the EEZ (Eurasian Economic Zone), although it is not clear if a deal will be reached.
Deals in the defence sector, such as the joint production of 200 Kamov-226T helicopters and the production of four frigates, and in the nuclear sector, like the six new nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh and the fifth and sixth Koodankulam reactors, will be a boost for Modi’s Make in India programme.
The challenge, however, will be to see how much of it will have a ‘Make in India’ stamp.
Interestingly, these deals come on the same day when there is news that Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse Electric Co LLC is expected to sign a contract with India to build six nuclear reactors in Gujarat.
India is concentrating on nuclear technology to feed its power demands and growth trajectory. Over the next 17 years, New Delhi aims to increase the country’s power output through nuclear reactors by 57,000MW.
However, not everyone is expecting this summit to give a push to the Make in India initiative.
“I have dubious, mixed feelings about this visit. This summit will be a great achievement for Russia and India on defence and nuclear ties. The summit will also demonstrate that both Russia and India are interested in strengthening ties. But there isn’t talk about joint development of technology. The Ka-226T helicopter deal will not be a major boost for Make in India because it is not jointly developed tech,” says Pyotr Topychkanov, an expert with Carnegie Moscow Center, who specialises on South Asia, nuclear issues and military-technical matters.