This is Vladimir Putin's second overseas trip since the pandemic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today welcomed Russin President Vladimir Putin on his brief visit to India saying it's a reflection of the latter's commitment to ties with India. This is Mr Putin's second overseas trip since the Covid pandemic began.
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"Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, there has been no change in the relationship between India and Russia," PM Modi said at the 21st India-Russia summit that covered an array of areas with an aim to further enhance the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two countries. The annual summit is held alternately in India and Russia. The two countries signed 28 agreements, included government-to-government pacts, in several areas.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the two countries cooperated during the Covid pandemic as well, in the field of vaccine and humanitarian support. "You should be credited for the strategic partnership between our countries for the three decades," PM Modi said during the summit that took place hours after the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries held their inaugural ''2+2'' dialogue with an aim to widen the ambit of discussions on strategically important issues.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took a dig at China at the "2+2" meeting with his Russian counterpart, accusing Beijing of unprovoked aggression, and said India is on the lookout for "sensitive and responsive" partners.
The Prime Minister also mentioned cooperation in the economic sector, under which the two countries are adopting a long-term vision. "To achieve the aims of this partnership, we need to encourage our business leaders," he added.
Referring to evolving geopolitics and changing fundamentals in world politics, he said that the India-Russia friendship has been constant amid all such variables. "Both countries have assisted each other and also taken care of each other's sensitivities," PM Modi said.
Mr Putin called India a "great power" and "a time-tested friend". This summit is the first in-person between the two leaders since they met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in 2019 in Brasilia. The Russian President had skipped both the G20 and COP26 summits this year.
Referring to bilateral trade, the Russian President said it decreased by 17 per cent last year but has increased by 30 per cent this year in the first nine months.
"We are working on very promising sectors, including energy and space. We are also working and cooperating in areas of military and technology," Mr Putin said.
The Russian President said the two countries continue to cooperate on the global agenda. "We are naturally concerned about everything related to terrorism, terror funding, and drug trafficking and that is why we are naturally concerned about the situation in Afghanistan," he added.
Pointing out that the two countries have held joint military exercises in both Indian and Russian territories, he said that Russia intends to work further on this matter.