PM Modi to host President Putin for one-to-one meeting on Dec 6

By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nov 18, 2021 10:30 AM IST

Not a great one for ceremonies, President Putin will have close discussions with PM Modi at the latter's Lok Kalyan Marg residence, followed by dinner during the short visit of Russian leader to India due to prevailing Covid conditions in Moscow.

Joining hands to tackle new challenges affecting strategic stability at regional and global levels, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host Russian President Vladimir Putin for a one-to-one bilateral meeting followed by dinner at his Lok Kalyan Marg (LKM) residence on December 6.

PM Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have close personal chemistry and are known to have discussions that go on for hours and into the week hours of next morning.
PM Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have close personal chemistry and are known to have discussions that go on for hours and into the week hours of next morning.

As in his previous visit to Delhi on October 5, 2018, President Putin will focus on hardcore discussions with PM Modi on Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific, strategic stability, climate change, Middle-East and terrorism at LKM residence without going through elaborate ceremonial routines. Last time, a small tent was put inside the PM’s residence, where the two friends had close discussions over Indian delicacies with only the presence of interpreters. The two plus two dialogues between India and Russian defence and external affairs ministers is expected to be held on the same day before the summit.

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While President Putin’s visit is expected to last for a few hours due to raging Covid situation in Russia, it could be extended as the discussions between the two leaders - who have close personal chemistry - are known to continue for hours, into wee hours of the morning.

Although India and Russia are going to sign several agreements on that day, the two countries are unfazed about the orchestrated brouhaha over the Modi government acquiring the much-needed S-400 missile systems from Moscow. While the media reports every time India engages the US or Russia threaten that Washington will impose sanctions citing CATSA Act on New Delhi, the Modi government has had lengthy discussions with the Biden administration on the issue to mutual understanding of each other’s positions. The relevance of S-400 systems to India assumes much importance now as Chinese PLA has already deployed the same Russian systems at Ngari Gar Gunsa airbase, next to Demchok on Ladakh LAC, and at Nyingchi airbase next to Arunachal Pradesh LAC. The PLA as of now is fully deployed at the Ladakh LAC with no less than three divisions of troops, missiles, and rocket regiments with the Air Force on standby. China has deployed two S-400 systems towards India and three towards protecting Beijing and the East coast against Taiwan. It is already in discussion with the Russians to acquire the S-500 systems which is in last stages of development.

“One must understand that the purchase of five S-400 systems was contracted early in 2018 when other options were not on the table. It is a must requirement to counter China which has a formidable arsenal on the LAC since May 2020,” said a former foreign secretary in knowledge of the issue.

Although PM Modi and President Putin are known to have sweeping discussions over regional and global events, the key focus this time would be stabilization of Afghanistan under the Taliban rule as there is a strong possibility of present Kabul chaos spilling over to the Central Asian Republics and even Pakistan. The rise of ISKP and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan due to no governance experience of the Taliban will not only rally around all the Islamic jihadists to Kabul but also spark off radicalization all over the globe particularly in neighboring countries. Both India and Russia believe that the Taliban first much secure legitimacy within Afghanistan before seeking international recognition.

The other major topic of discussion will be Indo-Pacific as new shipping routes to Europe via Arctic Circle will open due to climate change and in this context the discussion will be centered on the Chinese and the US posture in East Asia. Although Russia has close relations with China, Moscow has its own strategic perception of its global status as it has the capacity and capability to stand alone.

Just as Russia has good ties with China, India has also excellent ties with the US but the basic equation between age old special strategic partners allies has not changed and under PM Modi will not change.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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