Analysing Russia-India relationship: From bromance to the discrepancy

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From long love devotion and warmness in USSR – India Relations to deep drifts in contemporary India and Russia relations focusing deeply on countering China, the QUAD group, and growing Indo – US proximity.

Yet, Russia-India relations have come a long way despite the turbulent journey. However, the question now arises, where do our relationships stand in this highly volatile global order? Is the bond still strong, or can one witness the chunks in the armour? 

To decipher this, let us scrutinize the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to India in the first week of December. Which international relations experts are dubbing as the most compelling visit of Putin in the corona pandemic era.  

Flying with pride- Flags of Russian Federation and the Republic of India

The visit of President Putin is noteworthy from various international perspectives. Firstly, it is seen as an effort to assess and control damage in the bilateral relationship between New Delhi and Kremlin, which is decaying in recent years.

Secondly, Putin’s visit is seen to rebuild the Indo – Russian relationship back to the glorious old days. Thus, showcasing to the world that the strong bonds still persist despite India and Russia’s new alignments to tackle the challenges worldwide.


The Cold war era [ Soviet Union – India relationships] remains as the two peas in the pod both remain together in thick and thins. For instance, India’s silence on the Soviet Union crushing the Hungarian Revolution to the Soviet Union’s support of Kashmir as an integral part of India is well known.

Another historic example dear to every Indian is the – Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. A classic example of collaboration and partnership between the Soviet Union and India.

It was here, that the USSR stood by Indians to stop the interference of the USA in the Bangladesh liberation war (Must Read) from the side of Pakistan. Had it not been for the USSR at that time, our history and maybe geographical boundaries would have been a little different.

The Historical Kremlin and the famous Russian dolls

However, with the disintegration of the USSR and the triumph of the Capitalist world, the global world also changed. As the world changed from a Bipolar to Unipolar world order, the sole hegemony of the USA was established as the worldwide leader.

Therefore, despite India’s apprehension with the USA, it became internationally necessary to establish a relationship with the USA in the world. Although the US maintained its suspicion about India after the Pokhran nuclear blast test, imposing sanctions.  

Even though India enjoyed cordial relations with the newly created Russian Federation, India was left without the support it used to enjoy during the regime of the USSR.


However, things changed when Vladimir Putin took charge of the largest federation in the world. As a result, the relationship between India and Russia was raised to a super level with IRIGC [India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission coming into existence. With 2 fruits under this Indo Russian Tree.

A handicraft showcasing Russian President Vladimir Putin
Picture Credits@ Ignat Kushnarev

TEC [Technical and Economic Cooperation] on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation. This branch has successfully brushed up a traditional friendship and mutual trust. This is well perceived from the large-scale trade ties and collaboration among Indian and Russian institutions of higher studies.

MTC [Mechanical & Technological Cooperation] is at the forefront of this relationship. Both nations remain on the same page with the context of Military Cooperation, collaboration in developing New era technology. The development of the Brahmos missile and training of the astronauts of the first human-crewed Indian space mission (Gaganyaan) are prime examples.


There is no denying that the upsurge of the People’s Republic of China has shaped Indo -US relationships at all levels high. Peking’s expansionist values and rising military supremacy dreams of dethroning Uncle Sam’s (USA) dominance.

A hegemon in making- Peoples Republic of China.
Picture Credits@ Brian Mnatangelo

However, it has been only recently that the US has awakened to the rising prominence of China and started perceiving it as a real challenge to US supremacy. And therefore, it becomes but natural for the US to recognize and support India as a strong ally that can help it contain the Chinese aggression.

Thus, New Delhi and Washington both face a common threat with a familiar adversary (China) on the list. Which automatically makes them Natural allies. We could see QUAD; Malabar Exercise is the steps of these power to corner Chinese’s Potential dominance in the Indian Ocean, South China sea.


Steps like (QUAD, Malabar Exercise) have made communist China annoyed and made Russia displeased. Moreover, India’s alignment with the US and its allies to counter China is a cause of concern for the Russians.

Read more about QUAD here.

Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation, Moscow.
Picture Credits@ Alexander Awerin

Since Russia has disputes and fractured relationships with such other nations. For instance, it has a territorial dispute with Japan and spat with the UK. Hence, it fears losing its most trusting partner (India) in Southern Asia due to India’s new connections.

To quote another example, we could see the statement of the Russian foreign minister attacking the US and the West but remaining anxious over India’s tilt towards the US. 

“QUAD as Part of US-led’ persistent, aggressive and devious policy intend to ensnare India in its ‘Anti-China ‘activities.”  

Russian foreign ministers Sergey V Lavrov
Russian Defence Industry is top-notch in its class. File photo of Russian Armed Helicopters
Picture Credits@ Aleksei Zaitcev

Furthermore, there is a drastic decline in the Firearm relationship between India and Russia. India’s arms import shows a severe reduction of 33% between 2011-2015 and 2016-2020, affecting Russian defence industries as India was the most lucrative market for Russian arsenals and firearms.


Russia, in retaliation, warms its relationship with the grand old foe of India (Pakistan). From combined military drills, Pak stream Gas Pipeline Project to Russia’s extending support to Troika talks, Moscow –Islamabad collaboration has seen a rise in recent years. So we can see Russia is trying to balance its ties between India and Pakistan.


To retrieve things back of core, New Delhi laid down much more focus on the S400 Missile system. Even New Delhi ignored continuous warnings from the USA to Impose CAATSA [Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions and Act].

Russian Naval Ship in Novorossiysk, Russia

India remains firm on the ground to purchase the S 400 Missile system, which was very welcoming for Russia.  


● Successfully advancing India – Russia bilateral Coordination, Cooperation on Defence, Nuclear Energy Space, Defence, Natural Gas.

● Many emphases were laid down on Multilateral engagements. Platforms like BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) and Trilateral media like RIC (Russia-India-China) were reinforced.

  • Signing of the India- Russia MOU- [28] and many agreements of Cooperation. However, the most significant MOU was the Joint Production of 600,000 AK203 Assault Rifles and Extended Pact on Military Cooperation for 10 years from 2021 to 2031.
Getting things back in order- Russian Thumbs-up to India’s co-operation as an all-season allies
  • In addition to the 2+2 dialogue format, talks will be held with foreign, and defence ministerial levels and decisions will be taken on Mutual interest. The political analyst considers this step very important to enhance the relationship to the next level.


With the rise of Communist China, which has expansionist thoughts playing in the backyard of India, that’s a thing of concern for India. Therefore, it has undoubtedly become necessary to align with anti–Chinese forces to counter China’s Influence in the Indian Ocean and South China sea.

Hence, the top priority of India’s foreign policy is the containment of Chinese influence in our Neighbourhood.

In the race to contain china India should not forget its all-weather ally “Russia”.

An aerial View of Modern Moscow, Russian Federation
Picture Credits@ Astemir Almov

Both India and Russia Enjoy a “special and privileged strategic partnership.” Russia plays a crucial role in the diffusion of tension between India and China. For Russia,” India remains a significant partner in southern Asia as a well big market for Russian energy and gas.

Moreover, India remains a crucial partner in the development of Far East Russia (Vladivostok –Chennai Corridor) is a classic example.

So New Delhi must make equal distance with Moscow and Washington to fulfil its national interests and contain China without tempting the rage of the two military behemoths.

Ishant Sharma & Yash Arya

It is a golden opportunity for India to mediate and diffuse the boiling tensions between NATO and Russian in contemporary to show India’s rising perspective in the modern world order. 

About the Author:

Ishant Sharma

Ishant Sharma is actually a stubborn optimist and Political Spectator who always choose solidarity over toxicity. He always acknowledges that there is still Road left to walk, making him pursue his endeavours in detail. Currently pursuing Political Science Hons from SGTB Khalsa College (University of Delhi), Ishant believes in studying history and creating one.

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