This is PM Modi's fourth visit to Russia after June last year
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's informal summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is to take place in the afternoon today in Sochi where the two leaders will discuss developmental priorities and bilateral matters of their respective countries. This is the first informal summit between the two leaders. They last met in June 2017, and this is PM Modi's fourth visit to Russia. PM Modi is flying in only for a day for this summit at the "invitation of Mr Putin" and it comes close on the heels of the unique "informal summit" held between India and China recently in Wuhan. This is a new way PM Modi is handling foreign policy through a deeply personalised touch.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed hope that his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin would further strengthen the "special and privileged" strategic partnership
between India and Russia and tweeted that he was looking forward to the meeting.
Here are the highlights of the informal summit in Sochi:
"Extremely productive discussions with President Putin. We reviewed the complete range of India-Russia relations as well as other global subjects. Friendship between India and Russia has stood the test of time. Our ties will continue to scale newer heights in the coming years": PM Modi said on Twitter.
"I am happy that today I got the opportunity to be a guest of President Putin and that too in Sochi," PM Modi said. He added, "Russia has always remained a true and fast friend of India."
"We have been regularly holding bilateral meetings but I am grateful to President Putin for inviting me for an informal summit which has taken our relationship to a new level."
Russia and India maintain a high strategic level of partnership with close cooperation between the two countries Defence Ministries, President Vladimir Putin said. "Our Defence Ministries maintain very close contacts and cooperation. It speaks about a very high strategic level of our partnership," President Putin was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Modi said India and Russia have been friends for a long time and they have enjoyed an unbreakable friendship.
"I am grateful to President Putin who invited me for an informal meeting and hence, in the long friendship of ours, this is a new aspect that has been attached to our relationship," PM Modi said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the strategic partnership between India and Russia has now been elevated into a "special privileged strategic partnership" as he met Russian President Vladimir Putin in this Black Sea coastal city of Sochi for their first informal summit.
PM Narendra Modi attending an informal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.
PM Modi is attending a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. The informal meeting has just started.
PM Modi's visit comes after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale visited Moscow earlier this month to discuss a way out of the US sanctions on Russian firms. The sanctions against Russian oligarchs and companies, including Rosoboronexport, the state-owned Russian weapons trading company, has raised concerns in India about a possible impact on India's military buys from Moscow.
Vladimir Putin is expected to visit India later this year for the annual bilateral summit.
PM Modi and Mr Putin will meet with delegation, followed by a private lunch at Bocharev Creek and conclude with tete-a-tete before departing today.
The Prime Minister's Office tweeted on PM Modi's arrival.
There will be no other minister accompanying PM Modi and no documents or joint statement is expected from this meeting either.
PM Modi has reached Sochi.
India's maiden nuclear venture abroad in Bangladesh could also be discussed. At Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, almost on the Indian border, Bangladesh is making two Russian-made 1200 MW reactors.
Indo-Russian atomic energy cooperation could also be reviewed at the highest level. Reports suggest that India has invested nearly $5 billion in the Russian energy sector. Bilateral civil nuclear co-operation could be very high on the agenda
. The Indo-Russian nuclear deal is well worth over Rs. 4,50,000 crores and could be the mother of all deals.
The two leaders may also deliberate on extending Indo-Russia civil nuclear cooperation to third countries, possible areas for cooperation for the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project, India's engagement with five-nation Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the situation in the Korean peninsula.
The patch up happening between North and South Korea over nuclear weapons is also going to be on the table. But closer home, atomic talks related to Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant are also likely to be part of the summit.
Sources say the issues on the table may include economic impact on India and Russia in the wake of the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, situation in Afghanistan and Syria, threat of terrorism, and matters relating to the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS summits.
India is not going to allow its defence engagement with Russia to be dictated by any other country, the sources have said, adding New Delhi has been lobbying with the Trump administration on the issue.
Sources say the possible impact of the US sanctions against Russia under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on Indo-Russia defence cooperation might also figure during the talks between PM Modi and Mr Putin.
The aim of the informal summit is to use the friendship and trust between the two countries to create convergence on key global and regional issues, the sources said.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that the two leaders are expected to discuss steps to cement the solid partnership of the two countries.
PM Modi is expected to reassert India's avowed position of complete denuclearisation of weapons of mass destruction from the world.
Mr Putin and PM Modi may take a walk along the famous stony beaches in Sochi.
Large part of the informal meeting between PM Modi and Mr Putin would be one-to-one and there might be limited segment for restricted delegation-level discussions.
Describing Russia as "an old friend and trusted partner", sources disputed claims there was need to work on the relationship which had lacked substance in the last few years since India's proximity to the US had increased.
The tricky issues involving defence deals would not be brought up, sources said, even as reports have emerged that India trying to acquire 200 Kamov Ka 226T helicopters from Russia
was on the agenda. The agreement for the Kamov choppers was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Russia in December, 2015.
Sources told NDTV that the no frills attached visit would be "agendaless, flexible and would have no formalities in terms of protocol," and would discuss several international and regional issues but not many domestic issues will be taken up as those are discussed at the annual summit between the two sides later in the year.
The two leaders will primarily focus on pressing global and regional issues, including impact of the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
A statement by India's Ministry of External Affairs spells out some details suggesting that "this 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 our special and privileged strategic partnership".
PM Modi is expected to reach Sochi at 12.10pm (IST) and will hold talks with President Putin at around 1pm.
The summit is likely to be held at the private 'dacha' or villa of Mr Putin set against the currently pre-monsoon like pleasant weather of the Black Sea resort. Mr Putin's residence in Sochi is unmarked on maps and is hidden on a mountainside. The property is supposed to have cost nearly a whopping $1 billion. It is possible that Mr Putin is very fond of Sochias he also hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel there on May 18.
PM Modi had yesterday tweeted that the meeting will strengthen ties between the two nations.
PM Modi has left for Russia from the airport.