India and Russia today signed the much-awaited agreement on setting up of two more units of a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu and decided to give a “new direction” to the defence cooperation between the two “great powers”.
The two countries also decided to hold the first tri-Services exercises, named ‘Indra-2017′, this year and start joint manufacturing of frigates, adding on to the co-production of Kamov-226 military helicopters.
These decisions were taken at the wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russian port city St Petersburg which covered a range of issues, including terrorism and increasing trade and investment.
Addressing the media jointly with Putin after the talks, Modi said the relations between India and Russia have been unwavering, based on “mutual love, respect and strong trust”.
“From culture to security, our relations have been at par… We speak in one language,” he added.
He said the two leaders had decided to speed up the bilateral cooperation in all fields, for which an ‘Action Plan’ has been devised.
Noting that India and Russia were celebrating the 70th anniversary of their relations, Modi said there has been no impact on the ties in all these decades.
Putin described the talks as substantative and said the India-Russia “partnership is developing into strategic and priveleged one.”
He described the talks as “constructive and fruitful which will strengthen friendship” between the two nations.
A Joint Declaration issued after the talks said that “the Indian-Russian special and privileged strategic partnership is a unique relationship of mutual trust between two great powers.”
It said the relationship covers all areas of cooperation, including in the spheres of political relations, security, trade and economy, military and technical field, energy, scientific, cultural and humanitarian exchanges, and foreign policy.
The relationship helps promote national interests of both countries, and contributes to the establishment of a more peaceful and just world order, the declaration said.
The two sides signed five agreements, which included one on setting up of Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu with the Russian help.
Modi said the nuclear agreement, which was a major outcome of the summit meeting, will further strengthen the ties between the two countries.
Putin said, “India and Russia have agreed in joint plans to erect 12 NPP units of Russian design”.
The other pacts included a contract for a high-speed train service between Nagpur and Secunderabad, an MoU for export of precious stones and jewellery and a programme on cultural exchanges.
“We welcome the conclusion of the the General Framework Agreement and Credit protocol for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant,” said a ‘Vision Document’ issued after the talks.
The reactors will be built by India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Russia’s Atomstroyexport company, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex. Each of the two units will have a capacity to produce 1,000 MW of power.
The document titled ‘A vision for the 21st Century’ said economies of India and Russia complement each other in the energy sector and both countries will strive to build an “energy bridge”.
It said the future of Indian-Russian cooperation holds great promise across a wide spectrum covering nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear science and technology.
“We will strive to build an ‘energy bridge’ between our states and expand bilateral relations in all areas of energy cooperation, including nuclear, hydrocarbon, hydel and renewable energy sources and in improving energy efficiency,” it said.
The growing partnership in the nuclear power sector between India and Russia has opened opportunities for developing advanced nuclear manufacturing capabilities in India in line with India’s “Make In India” initiative, the declaration said.
India and Russia commit themselves to earnestly implement the “Programme of Action for Localisation in India” signed on December 24, 2015, and to encourage their nuclear industries to engage closely and foster concrete collaborations, it said.
The current nuclear power generation capacity of all 22 nuclear power reactors is 6780 MW.
In October 2015, a joint statement between Modi and Putin promised the signing of a GFA on the nuclear units by December 2016. After an inter-ministerial group cleared the project, it was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for approval. But, sources said, the Credit Protocol, or a line of credit that Russia was to provide, proved to be a hurdle.
The two countries also said that there has been a “steady and demonstrable” achievements in bilateral civil nuclear partnership, including advancing nuclear power projects at the Kudankulum site and transforming it into one of India’s largest energy hubs.
“Cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy has emerged as one of the hallmarks of the strategic partnership between the two countries, contributing to India’s energy security and energising broader scientific and technological cooperation,” as per the document.
Referring to the defence ties, Putin said the two countries “agreed on designing and producing state of the art weapons.”
Talking about terrorism, Modi said the views of the two countries are similar on the problem in whichever form it exists, whether in Afghanistan, Middle East or Asia-Pacific.
“India and Russia stand together on terrorism and new challenges to the security,” he said.
In the joint statement, the two sides said that the “unprecedented spread” of the threat of terror “requires decisive collective response on part of the entire global community, without double standards and selectivity, in accordance with international law and the UN Charter.”
It added, “We urge all countries and entities to work sincerely to disrupt terrorist networks and their financing, and stop cross-border movement of terrorists.”
The two countries called for early conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to strengthen the global counter-terrorism normative and legal framework to combat this scourge.
Referring to trade, Modi said the two countries were close to achieving the target of USD 30 billion by 2025.
At present, trade between the two nations stands at USD 7.8 billion, down from USD 10 billion in 2014.
Russian investment in India is USD 4 billion while Indian investment in Russia is USD 8 billion, Putin noted.
He said the declining trend in bilateral trade has been reversed with a 29 per cent growth in the first quarter.