Modi-Putin summit in Sochi


Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Russian President Vladmir Putin on May 21, 2018 in an informal summit  in Sochi, a coastal city in Russia.. The two leaders met for "agenda-less" talks.

Informal summits are becoming the norm in bilateral relations. For Modi, it was a second informal summit after the recent one with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Wuhan, China, while Putin has already had similar summits with the German, French and Japanese heads of state.

Modi called the interaction "extremely productive".
They (Modi and Putin) recognized each other's respective roles as major powers with common responsibilities for maintaining global peace and stability.

Modi said the strategic
partnership between India and Russia has been given a step up, and is now a "special privileged strategic partnership".
Modi and Putin emphasised the need to create a "multipolar world order", which includes increasing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
The subject of terrorism was also discussed, with the two leaders highlighting the need for peace in Afghanistan.
The two leaders agreed to institute a Strategic Economic Dialogue between NITI Aayog and Russia's Ministry of Economic Development.
Cooperation in the areas of defence and nuclear energy were reiterated.
“We are working together on International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and BRICS,” says Modi.
He also mentioned military-to-military cooperation between the two countries.
Russia played a major role in helping India get a permanent membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The Russian President is due to visit India later this year for the annual bilateral summit.


Modi's visit to Sochi was in the backdrop of three developments:
(i) US officials reminded India that major purchases from Russia would attract sanctions under Countering America's Adversaries through Sanction Act (CAATSA) signed into law by President Donald Trump in August 2017 and promulgated in January 2018.
(ii) Trump pulled back from launching a trade war with China by agreeing to put proposed tariffs on Chinese imports "on hold", and;
(iii) Trump is all set to re-impose pre-2015 sanctions on Iran albeit dissent from European nations has delayed imposition.
The US-China trade war would affect both countries, with the fallout on the global economy. Imposition of pre-2015 sanctions on Iran would affect India's Chahbahar port development project. American reminder of CAATSA was to target India purchasing five S-400 Triumf missile systems from Russia.
India had reportedly asked for a US waiver 
but not received any response.
However, in absence of the US waiver, India has very rightly clarified that its defence purchases won't be dictated by the US.
Russia's tilt to Pakistan and support to Taliban have been worrying issues in India albeit defence sales to Pakistan are in the backdrop of mounting sanctions that the US has been imposing on Russia. But Russia's defence cooperation agreement with Pakistan and closeness to China drove Russian foreign minister call upon India to join the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor).

Russia also signed the joint declaration of the six-nation conference in December 2017 in Islamabad, asking for resolution of Kashmir issue under the UNSC resolution; which may be viewed acquiescing (accepting) to Pakistani efforts for internationalising the Kashmir issue.

From the Russian viewpoint, perhaps it also looked at India putting all its defence purchases in America's basket.
Yet, these are hiccups
in the historically strong India-Russian bonds. Russia has been a trustworthy ally always, and its physical action of negating the US and British naval threat to India during the liberation of Bangladesh is a historical reality.

The emerging global challenges including the widening drift between US-Russia, UK-Russia coupled with the situation in West Asia-Afghanistan, and the China-Pakistan nexus that required invigorating the India-Russian relationship – that is what the Sochi summit is all about.

While Pakistan and its terror export will remain problematic, India, Russia and China need to work together for the success of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which in turn also implies the development of Chabahar port as an International hub.
Modi needed to reset India's relations with Russia; balancing India's relations with both US and Russia. With the US and the West gunning for Russia, Putin too was looking at resetting relations with India. This is what the Sochi Summit has obviously achieved.


 (1) S-400 Triumf missile
India is planning to purchase five S-400 Triumf air defence systems for around $4.5 billion from Russia.  India wants to procure the long-range missile systems, S-400 Triumf, to tighten its air defence mechanism, particularly along the nearly 4,000-km Sino-India border.
The S-400 was developed as an upgrade of the S-300 series of surface-to-air missile systems
It is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.
The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km.
The system can simultaneously engage 36 targets.
The S-400 can be deployed within five minutes.
It can also be integrated into the existing and future air defence units of the Air Force, Army, and the Navy.

(2) Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)  
On 2nd of August 2107, President Trump signed into law a bill passed by overwhelmingly majorities in Congress, which imposes new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.
 The bill titled Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) restricts the President’s ability to lift the sanctions against Russia without Congressional approval.
The bill also imposes so-called extra-territorial “secondary sanctions”, meaning that the sanctions will include restrictions that relates to activities of non-US persons. The legislation may for example subject European companies involved in sanctioned Russian energy project to US sanctions.
The CAATSA consists of three acts and some of the key provisions are summarized below.

(i) Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act 

The Iran-related measures further target Iran’s ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism and human rights abuses, while seeking to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.
The bill directs the President to impose blocking sanctions on any person that knowingly contributes to: (1) Iran’s ballistic missile program or weapons of mass destruction programs, 2) the sale or transfer to Iran of military equipment or provide related technical training, financial resources, advice or other services to Iran, and (3) the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its foreign officials, agents or affiliates.

The President may impose sanctions against persons responsible for human rights violations in Iran.
President may temporarily waive the imposition or continuation of sanctions under specified circumstances.

(ii) Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 

The Russia-related measures provides sanctions for activities concerning: (1) cyber security, (2) crude oil projects, (3) financial institutions, (4) corruption, (5) human rights abuses, (6) evasion of sanctions, (7) transactions with Russian defense or intelligence sectors, (8) export pipelines, (9) privatization of state-owned assets by government officials, and (10) arms transfers to Syria. The President may waive certain cyber- and Ukraine-related sanctions.

(iii) Korean Interdiction (Ban) and Modernization of Sanctions Act

The North-Korea related measures provides sanctions against: (1) North Korean cargo and shipping, (2) goods produced in whole or part by North Korean convict or forced labor, and (3) foreign persons that employ North Korean forced laborers.

Thursday, 24th May 2018, 04:24:20 AM

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