India and Russia succeeded in melting the ice of mistrust that had clouded their equation over the past few years, with a highly successful visit of President Dmitry Medvedev transforming bilateral ties into a "privileged strategic partnership".
Medvedev's visit at the close of the year resulted in a USD 295 million deal for the design and development of advanced fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA).
The deal for the joint design and development will result in India purchasing over 200 FGFA at an estimated total figure of USD 30 billion.
Besides, 29 other pacts in several key areas such as defence and civil nuclear sector to impart new impetus to their "special and privileged" ties to match the realities of the transforming world order.
Medvedev's visit was by far the most significant event in bilateral ties in recent times that managed to leave behind three years of mistrust in the Kremlin at a pro-US drift in India's foreign policy and the vexed issue of cost escalation and delay in delivery of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier.
The joint statement issued after the annual summit of leaders of the two countries on December 21 left no doubt in the resolve to carry forward the positive legacy of the past of the time-tested bilateral strategic relations.
Observers say India can depend only on Russia in seeking sensitive items like leasing of nuclear attack submarine, development of indigenous nuclear submarine, joint development of a new generation fighter.
The optimistic tone in the bilateral relations was set by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who visited India in March to lay down the economic agenda and cement the dwindled political trust also dented by the appointment of a political lightweight as New Delhi's ambassador to Moscow in October 2007 to replace a series of high-profile ambassadors including two former foreign secretaries.
"With the current state of bilateral relations, I believe that each of these visits may be deemed historic, to a degree. This year our bilateral relations have seen several major events," believes Dr Tatiana Shaumyan, Director of Centre for Indian Studies of the Science Academy's Oriental Institute.
She said the recent meeting of the joint commission on military-technical cooperation has also focused on highly important issues.
A noted Russian expert of South Asia Prof Andrei Volodin says: "The pro-US part of the Indian elite clearly made a mistake of overlooking Russia's ongoing return to the world stage".