While Moscow is keen that India plays a bigger role in Central Asia to balance China’s massive inroads into the region, a traditional backyard for Russia, New Delhi would prefer Russia to enhance its presence in the Indian Ocean Region as part of Putin’s Lisbon to Vladivostok connectivity concept. The recent NSA level dialogue on Afghanistan involving India-Russia-Iran that involved five Central Asian countries contributed to efforts of enhancing New Delhi’s presence in the Central Asian Region. A meeting of foreign ministers of India and Central Asia is on cards next month here, ET has learnt. Russia recently adopted a five-year roadmap focused on trade and investment cooperation, the digital economy and sustainable development with the ASEAN. At the Sixth Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok, Moscow’s old partner in the region, Vietnam, expressed interest to be a bridge to connect ASEAN to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. Singapore and Vietnam free trade agreements with the Eurasian Economic Union could contribute to future economic growth. Sputnik vaccine is an added incentive to ASEAN states to widen ties with Russia. Recently a detachment of ships and submarines had sailed into the Indian Ocean en route to a permanent deployment as part of Russia’s Pacific Fleet. Currently Russia has limited assets and involvement in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), but India would like Moscow to enhance its presence in the IOR, a source said. Russia’s vision from Lisbon to Jakarta complements India’s outreach in SE Asia and Far East Asia and bolsters India’s Act Far East Policy that involves New Delhi’s role and investment in the resource rich Russian Far East.Modi’s message at the last edition Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok this September and oil minister Hardeep Puri’s presence in the EEF are indication of India’s growing interest in the region that can be further consolidated through revival of Chennai-Vladivostok maritime link. India has huge stakes in the energy assets in the Russian Far East. The India-Japan-Russia trilateral could further help bring balance to the region. Modi in his message at the EEF 2021, highlighted the historical and civilisational significance of ‘Sangam.’ He described Vladivostok as a true ‘Sangam’ of Eurasia and the Pacific and by doing so, he emphasised the geo-strategic location of the region in terms of connectivity. The Arctic, in recent times, has presented a new front of opportunities and cooperation between India and Russia. India has 2+2 ministerial format dialogue with only three other partners — USA; Japan; Australia.
Source: Economic Times