New Delhi: Russian President Vladimir Putin most likely will be visiting India in the first week of December, with the expected date being 6th December for the annual summit between the two countries.  The one-day visit to Delhi will see the Russian President holding talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A number of agreements are expected to be signed during the visit. The summit happens even as the first batch of the S400 air defence systems will be reaching India by the end of this year.

Putin last visited India in 2018 for the annual summit. Interestingly, it was during that visit the contract for S400 system was signed between India and Russia. The visit by the Russian President will be his 2nd only foreign visit this year, the first one being to Geneva for a summit-level meeting with US President Joe Biden. He had joined the G20 summit in Italy virtually due to the covid crisis at home.

Last year, the annual summit could not happen due to the COVID crisis. Russia and Japan are the only two countries with which India has such an annual summit-level mechanism that alternates between the respective countries.  So far, 20 Annual Summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia.

In 2019, PM Modi had visited the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and was also the Guest of Honour for the 5th Eastern Economic forum. India had then announced a $1bn soft credit line to boost Indian business participation in Russia’s development, especially in the Far East.
 
COVID crisis naturally will be a main subject of discussion during the summit.  Russia’s sputnik V vaccine is being produced in India, and during the deadly 2nd wave of covid crisis, Moscow had sent humanitarian support to New Delhi. Both countries are also engaged in Afghanistan, with Russian National Security Advisor  (Secretary of the Security Council) Nikolai P. Patrushev visiting Delhi 2 times since the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August to discuss the situation in the country.

Defence forms the main pillar of the relationship, with Russia being India’s largest defence partner. The manufacture and co-production of four Project 1135.6 Frigates, manufactured in India of assault rifle – AK-203, through 100% indigenization, additional supplies of Su-30 MKI, as well as the MiG-29s, additional supplies of the MANGO ammunition & VSHORAD systems are among the key projects.

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