In what was low-profile but important visit, Doval and Patrushev, with whom he shares strong chemistry, reviewed progress on bilateral and regional issues regarding the situation in Afghanistan, energy security, defence ties, counter-terrorism and the status of war in Ukraine, ET has learnt. Patrushev is one of the closest confidantes of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Patrushev visited India twice last year including for the newly created Indo-Russian mechanism on Afghanistan as India expands its diplomatic presence in Kabul, coordination with Moscow is key, sources said. Counterterror cooperation in AfPak region and Central Asia were also among the talking points.
A key item on the agenda of the visit was expectedly defence ties including maintenance and servicing of Russian origin defence equipment in India, besides new projects as outlined at the last annual summit held here. The two sides had concluded a 10-year defence roadmap on that occasion. The two sides are reportedly negotiating leasing of six long range strategic bombers from Russia.
Russia has appreciated India’s neutral and balanced position on Ukraine. Reports suggest Russia has become India’s second-largest supplier of crude oil. India is also a big buyer of fertilisers and coal from Russia. The International North South Transport Corridor via Iran has helped increase Indo-Russian trade manifold.
Indian retail chain stakeholders are also increasing their presence in Russia as the Western brands withdraw. India has also announced trade with various countries in national currencies.
Meanwhile, India has taken note of the Ukrainian foreign minister’s comments on Kiev’s attempts to widen ties with Pakistan. Sources pointed out that Ukraine and Pakistan have shared close defence partnership and Ukraine did not back India on Kashmir at the UN Security Council.
India has also taken note of the Ukrainian foreign minister’s comments on New Delhi’s purchase of Russian oil – which the government here considers critical for its population.
Meanwhile, Deputy NSA Vikram Misri is representing India at SCO NSA meet in Tashkent on Thursday & Friday.