Dr. Andrey Kortunov, Director General, RIAC,
Amb. Pavan Kapoor, Ambassador of India to the Russian Federation
H.E. Denis Alipov, Ambassador of Russia to India,
Amb. P.S. Raghavan, Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board
1. It is my pleasure to welcome all to the ICWA-RIAC dialogue on the theme “India-Russia Strategic Partnership: New Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing World Order.”
2. I thank the distinguished participants from India and Russia who have joined us for this dialogue and the Chairs of the three sessions- Dr. Ivan Timofeev, Amb. Ajay Bisaria as well as Prof. Anuradha Chenoy.
3. Our Dialogue will focus on new opportunities and challenges for the partnership of India and Russia in the backdrop of intense global geopolitical flux where the world order is changing. We are in a midst of an evolving scenario characterised by divisions whether it is East - West tensions or the mounting US-China rivalry, in a world that is also at the same time becoming multi-polar. As a result, there is now a re-assessment by countries of their defence requirements and resultantly there are new foreign and defence strategies and partnerships emerging in Europe, Asia and Oceania.
4. Ukraine-Russia conflict will mark its first anniversary this month. It is evident that the evolving situation in Ukraine has had implications beyond the European security architecture and the immediate stakeholders. The conflict has also resulted in Russia re-looking at its own approaches. We hope to hear from the Russian side about the future trajectory, including its strategic relationship with China.
5. The imposition of Ukraine related sanctions on Russia by the Western allies and countersanctions by Moscow have triggered high energy and food prices that have been detrimental for world economies, especially for those in the Global South which were still dealing with the negative impacts of the Pandemic. The global economic slowdown is resulting in several countries facing severe economic challenges and high levels of debt due to several reasons. For example, in India’s own neighbourhood there is Sri Lanka, Pakistan and of course Afghanistan where US withdrawal has resulted in a complex situation with implications for regional security due to terrorism, radicalisation and drug trafficking.
6. India seeks to build closer relations in Central Asia for which stability in Afghanistan is very important. As the current Chair of SCO, India’s agenda would be focused on greater connectivity and with Iran joining SCO, hopefully INSTC and Chabahar port would get a boost.
7. Indo-Pacific has been an area of concern due to piracy and maritime boundary contestations. India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific needs to be understood within the context of it being a traditional maritime power, that trades across oceanic routes. Hence, the importance it attaches to a peaceful and a rules-based maritime order, where disputes are settled through dialogue and in accordance with international law. India seeks partnerships with all nations in the Indo Pacific geography as well as beyond. We consider Russia as an important partner, both in the continental and in the maritime domain.
8. Over the years, both our countries have maintained independent foreign policies and pursued strategic autonomy while dealing with changes in the global and regional scenarios. Trust in our relationship is based on an understanding of each other’s core concerns. In the current times of geopolitical flux, the resilience of India-Russia relations was put to test on several occasions in last year owing to the situation in Ukraine. India has taken an independent stance towards the conflict and is advocating the path of diplomacy/dialogue. As PM Narendra Modi has noted, India firmly believes it is not an era of war.
9. India and Russia maintain regular and frank conversations to discuss both convergent and divergent issues. Bilateral ties between India and Russia have grown in all spheres – political, defence and security, economic, S&T, and cultural despite the uncertainties that have exacerbated in the last few years. India is now the fastest growing large economy and offers opportunities for enhanced and mutually beneficial economic and technological cooperation.
10. I am happy that ICWA and RIAC have also played an important part in building better understanding of each other’s perspectives on global developments. Both the institutions have maintained regular dialogues since 2017 and also signed an MoU in 2018.
11. The three sessions of our dialogue today are structured around the Security Agenda, Economic Co-operation and Cooperation in Higher Education & Science.
12. As the present programme as well as previously held discussions show, our Dialogue brings together dedicated experts with keen interest in furthering relations beyond the existing level and therefore, we hope to have a concrete view of Indian and Russian perspectives on issues and look forward to recommendations by our eminent speakers.