Indo-Russian friendship has stood the test of time: PM Modi

Vladivostok: The friendship between India and Russia “has stood the test of time”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Friday, adding that that it was visible in the ‘our robust cooperation during the Covid-19 pandemic including in the area of vaccines”.
Announcing that India’s Mazagon Docks will partner with Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex in Russia’s far east for building commercial ships, PM Modi said that India will be a reliable partner for Russia in realising the vision of developing its far east region.

Addressing the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) being held in Vladivostok in far eastern Russia, PM Modi also said that India and Russia will jointly work in opening of the northern sea route for international trade and commerce.

The Northern Sea Route is a shipping route that lies along the Russian Arctic coast along Siberia, to the Bering Strait. It lies in the Arctic waters and within Russia’s exclusive economic zone.

Terming Vladivostok as truly a ‘Sangam’ of Eurasia and the Pacific, PM Modi applauded President Vladimir Putin’s vision for the development of the Russian Far-East. “India will be a reliable partner for Russia in realising this vision. In 2019 when I had visited Vladivostok to attend the forum I had announced India’s commitment to an “Act Far-East” policy. This policy is an important part of our special and privileged strategic partnership with Russia,” he said.

Referring to their conversation during a boat ride from Vladivostok to Zvezda during his visit in 2019, the Prime Minister said that President Putin had shown him the modern ship-building facility at Zvezda and had expressed the hope that India would participate in this great enterprise.

“Today I am delighted that one of the India’s biggest ship yards, Mazagon Docks Limited, will partner with ‘Zvezda’ for construction of some of the most important commercial ships in the world. India and Russia are partners in space exploration through the Gaganyaan programme. India and Russia will also be partner in opening of the Northern Sea Route for international trade and Commerce.”

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the health and pharma sectors in our bilateral cooperation,” he added.

Stating that energy is “another major pillar of our strategic partnership”, the Prime Minister said that India-Russia energy partnership “can help bring stability to the global energy market”.

He announced that Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Puri is in Vladivostok to represent India at the EEF. “Indian workers are participating in major gas projects in the Amur region (in the far east), from Yamal (in northwest Siberia) to Vladivostok and onward to Chennai. We envisage an energy and trade bridge,” he said.

“I am happy that the Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor is making headway,” he announced. In 2019, Prime Minister Modi signed an agreement at Vladivostok on preparing the route for the maritime corridor which is proposed to link the ports of Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata with those of Vladivostok, Vostochny and Olga in the east coast of Russia.

Modi said the Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor project along with the International North- South Corridor “will bring India and Russia physically closer to each other”.

The International North- South Corridor is a proposed 7,200-km-long multi-modal network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

He said that despite the pandemic related restrictions “there had been good progress in strengthening our business links in many areas”, including long-term supply of coking coal to the Indian steel industry.

Both sides are also exploring new opportunities in the agro industry, ceramics, strategic and rare earth minerals and diamonds.

“I am happy that diamond representatives from Sakha-Yakutia and Gujarat are having a separate interaction as part of this forum,” he said, adding that he is confident that the $1 billion soft credit line announced in 2019 will create many business opportunities between both countries.” India had announced a $1 billion line of credit for development of Russia’s far east at the 2019 EEF.

The Prime Minister proposed bringing together on the same platform the most important stakeholders regions of the far east with the relevant states in India.

He said that both sides should take forward the useful discussions that took place during the visit of the Chief Ministers of key Indian states in 2019.

He extended an invite to the governors of 11 regions of Russia’s far east.

“I would like to extend an invitation for the Governors of 11 regions of the Russian Far- East to visit India at the earliest,” he said.

Citing his statement made at the forum in 2019, PM Modi said that Indian talent has contributed to the development of many resource-rich region of the world. “India has a talented and dedicated workforce, while the Far- East is rich in resources. So there is a tremendous scope for Indian workforce to contribute to the development of the Russian Far- East.

“The Far Eastern Federal University which is where this forum is being held is home to a growing number of students from India,” he added.

Thanking President Vladimir Putin, he said that Putin has “always been a great friend of India and under your guidance our strategic partnership continues to grow from strength to strength”.