Talk of a new free trade agreement between India and Russia should not distract from the unravelling of their strategic partnership. Russia is becoming steadily less useful to India as their strategic interests diverge.

In mid-April 2023, Russia’s deputy prime minister and trade minister Denis Manturov spent two days in New Delhi. Ostensibly, the purpose of his visit was the 24th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation, which labours under the long acronym IRIGC-TEC and serves to coordinate their bilateral relationship. But Manturov also had other concerns, not least stepping up Moscow’s India-focussed charm offensive, intended in part to dissuade New Delhi from taking a more critical position on Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

Past and present

India and Russia once enjoyed a close strategic partnership. In the early 1970s, facing threats from both China and Pakistan, New Delhi turned to the Soviet Union for economic and diplomatic support, as well as a reliable source of arms. Moscow delivered on all fronts, building long-lasting reserves of goodwill in India.

Please click here to read the full “Trade talks mask growing tensions between India and Russia” article published at Australian Outlook, written by Griffith Asia Institute Acting Director, Professor Ian Hall.