It would be Prime Minister Modi’s second informal summit in as many months as he held talks with Chinese President Xi Jingpin in China’s Wuhan in a similar format last month. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it will be an important occasion for the two leaders to exchange views on international matters in a “broad and long-term perspective” with the objective of further strengthening ‘special and privileged strategic partnership’ between the two countries. “Both leaders will also discuss their respective national developmental priorities and bilateral matters,” the MEA said.
The annual summit talks between the top leadership of the two countries, bound by ‘special and privileged strategic ties’, have been taking place alternately in Moscow and New Delhi since 2000. Sources said President Putin will be in India later this year for the annual summit. The last summit had taken place in St Petersburg in June 2017. “This informal summit in Sochi between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin is in keeping with the tradition of regular consultations between India and Russia at the highest levels,” the MEA said.
Prime Minister Modi and Putin will discuss issues of strategic importance besides exploring ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in areas of trade, commerce, nuclear energy and defence. Russia is keen to enhance economic cooperation with India. Putin has been making concerted efforts to push economic growth in his country which witnessed significant slowdown following Western sanctions after the Ukraine crisis.
Russia has been India’s biggest supplier of arms though New Delhi has started buying more military hardware from the US in the last few years. India has been pressing Russia to share critical technology with it for defence production. Energy-starved India, the third largest oil importer after the US and China, has also been pushing for greater involvement in major gas and oil exploration projects in Russia. Russia is one of the top oil producers globally and has huge reserves of natural gas.