The HINDU Interview

Thursday, 12 February 2015 09:08

1. The Russian statement comparing Kudankulam costs with those of others is strong. What prompted these figures to be published? Was it the India-US breakthrough?

It seems too early to speak about “breakthroughs” for lack of complete clarity, as not a single nail has been driven in any of the new construction sites. These are so far only commitments and promises, plus a dose of euphoria, which is not the best vehicle either in diplomacy or even more so in realpolitik. However, the existing price estimates of the power to be generated at future foreign reactors in India, except the Russian ones, show the figures over 6-7 Rupees per kW/h, while the 1,000 MW Unit 1 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) already supplies electricity to the national power grid at 3,5 Rupees per kW/h.

Our Indian friends are fully satisfied with Russia-designed reactors, which are said to be the best in terms of quality, safety, eco-preservation and, what is more, cost of energy. Taking into account the overall character of our ties, based on full respect for national laws, Russian-Indian interaction in this area could be viewed as a model for cooperation between India and other foreign countries.

Russia does not seek any kind of monopoly in this strategic area. The Indian energy market is so huge that there is enough room for everyone. Ultimately, it is the price India is willing to pay for nuclear power that matters.

2. Will the Indo-US agreements announced during President Obama’s visit affect Indo-Russian nuclear relationship in any way? Especially since President Putin announced 12 more reactors during his visit to Delhi?

As was mentioned, India can cooperate with whoever she chooses. Russia today remains the only partner of India who is actually contributing to its peaceful nuclear programme. Effective legal framework is in place, it provides for serial construction of over 12 units. The Strategic Vision for our nuclear cooperation signed during last December’s visit of President Putin envisages the expansion of our cooperation in this area.

3. In particular, will Russia look for the same agreements as those made between India and the US in its negotiations for private companies on supplier liability? How does Russia view this issue with regards to future negotiations for Russian reactors?

Russian-Indian cooperation is based on intergovernmental agreements of 2008 and 2010, international regulations and obligations of the two parties as well as national laws. It means that the provisions of the Indian Civil Nuclear Liability Act of 2010 are also kept in mind. In particular, this legal ground laid down the foundation for future reactors, including KKNPP Units 3 & 4 under the General Framework Agreement of 2014.

4. During the visit, President Obama made critical remarks about Russia on the Ukraine issue. How do you respond to those remarks having been made in India?

Mr. Obama’s remarks about Russia made in a third country during a bilateral state visit violate the basics and age-old traditions of international diplomacy and are seen by many Indians as disregard for decency and an insult towards their best friend. This behavior of that country worldwide is notorious. No respect for international norms or ethics is shown. Arrogance is in full bloom. The reaction of India’s officialdom was clear: Russian-Indian special and privileged strategic partnership is here to stay, and everybody knows it so well. By the way, as a participant of the last Russia-India summit, I must say that the words “United States” were not mentioned even once.

Russia is deeply convinced that the Ukraine has become yet another plaything for US in its quest for global dominance. The Americans' outdated and wrong notions of exclusiveness give way to attempts to impose its will upon the rest of the world.

At the Munich Security Conference our Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it clear that at every stage of the Ukrainian crisis it was the US but not Russia who aggravated the conflict and masterminded deadlocks. The Americans are now openly admitting that they engineered the coup d’etat in the Ukraine, which resulted in today’s grave situation. The authorities in Kiev should keep their promise to launch a nation-wide dialogue among all parts of that country.

We highly appreciate India’s balanced and objective approach towards the necessity of an inclusive dialogue in the Ukraine.

5. India and the US have committed to a joint statement on Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region. US media has termed it “the end of non-alignment”. Do you think this represents a significant shift in India’s strategic positioning?

We regard India as the founder and leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, which remains relevant in addressing interests of developing countries. Globally, India is committed to further democratization of international relations and multi-polarity as well as more justice, honesty and stability in the international political and economic order, which correlates with the UN Charter and other basic norms of the international law. These principles are also fundamental for Russian-Indian special and privileged strategic partnership.

In the Beijing Joint Communiqué of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China of February 2, 2015 it was specifically emphasized that they strongly support joint efforts to maintain lasting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific through development of an open, inclusive, indivisible and transparent security and cooperation architecture. The three nations agreed to closely coordinate their policies within such fora as EAS, ASEAN Regional Forum, ADMM-plus, ASEM and in other formats. Russia and China also welcomed India’s joining APEC.

Lastly, has not the UN General Assembly vote on the West-sponsored “Crimean” resolution shown that the new winds of non-alignment are blowing stronger and stronger?

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