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Modi to visit Russian Federation on May 21 for informal summit

17 May 2018

Less than a month after Wuhan Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is gearing up for his second "informal summit" - this time with the Russian president Vladimir Putin in the seaside town of Sochi.

Calling it an important occasion, the Indian ministry's statement said that both leaders would also discuss their respective national priorities and bilateral issues.

Symbolism besides direction to strategic partnership will be high on the Modi-Putin informal summit amid misgivings over Pakistan's ties with Russian Federation and the lack of clarity over US' sanctions over defence deals. Since the beginning of 2018, they have had several phone conversations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after his informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, now heads to Sochi for an informal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 21, signalling a new push to strategic partnership between the two countries amid changing geopolitics. By the end of 2017, India was Russia's 17th major trade partner, accounting for 1.6% of the entire trade turnover.

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Putin is also expected to visit India later this year for the annual bilateral summit. But within this larger space is the undeniable fact that India and Russian Federation are on very different global trajectories and it will take extraordinary commitment to keep the relationship at the level both sides have been used to.

Last week, national security adviser Ajit Doval had visited Moscow and held talks with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. "This informal Summit in Sochi between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin is in keeping with the tradition of regular consultations between India and Russian Federation at the highest levels", the MEA said. Observers have termed the move significant to boost investments in India.

Informal summits are in - or so it would seem. "Instead, the focus" will be on discussions on the "big picture" globally, according to observers. Ever since the Trump administration chose to withdraw from the nuclear deal, alleging that Tehran is not fulfilling its commitments, the global community has been working overtime to salvage the deal. This could impact India's acquisition of defence spares as well as other defence deals in the pipeline, like the S 400 anti-missile system.

The recent developments have also meant that numerous powers have also been holding talks with Putin.

Modi to visit Russian Federation on May 21 for informal summit