India welcomes Putin as she balances relations with Russia, US

NEW DELHI (AP) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss defense and trade relations as India attempts to balance relations with the United States.

The annual summit’s agenda includes political and defense issues, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said. The two countries are expected to sign several agreements, especially in the areas of trade and defense.

India and Russia have a long history of close ties. But recently, India has moved closer to the United States, which it considers essential to counter China. India and China have had a military standoff for months along their disputed border in eastern Ladakh, where deadly clashes erupted last year.

Russia, meanwhile, expressed reservations about the formation of the Quad, a consortium involving the United States, India, Japan and Australia formed in response to China’s growing assertion in the Indo region. -peaceful.

India is trying to manage its defense relationship with Russia as it strengthens its military relationship with the United States. India and Russia are discussing and are likely to sign a 10-year military-technical agreement that could help transfer new technologies to India.

India, a big buyer of military equipment, depended heavily on the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. But it diversifies its purchases by also opting for American equipment. During Donald Trump’s presidency, the United States and India struck more than $ 3 billion in defense deals. Bilateral defense trade increased from almost zero in 2008 to $ 15 billion in 2019.

India’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems that it considers essential to counter China could prove to be an irritant in Indo-American relations.

Washington has asked its partners to stay away from Russian military equipment to avoid possible sanctions.

India and Russia are also expected to strengthen their trade agreements. They have already set a target of $ 30 billion in bilateral trade by the end of 2025.

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