RESLUTE AND UNSWERVING

Russia and India have a lot to share and a lot to deliber­ate about. In a tête-à-tête Russian Ambassador Vyacheslav Trubnikov speaks about emergence of Russia in the new world order and ushering in of a phase where Russia, India and China seem to be rallying together

From the Cold War allies to front rank associates in the contemporary world, how things have shaped up in this period? Is there a need for In­dia and Russia to develop their relationship in the pres­ent format or get it going in a new framework?

Both countries through all these years have forged a time-tested intimate rela­tionship, which has every quality of a truly strategic direction, formally declared in 2000. The bottom line is that neither of the two na­tions have a basis or reason whatsoever for discord, that could derange our friend­ship - a friendship, that has evolved into the most advanced form there can be - the goodwill and trust of the people in each other. This was explicitly demonstrated by the Indian public opinion and the Indian leaders just recently during the Victory celebrations in Moscow on May 9, 2005. In the mindset of the Russian people and the Government any new framework of our relationship can only mean closer mutual­ly beneficial association on all fronts.

It is much in circulation the issue of India-Russia-China axis to cut down the possibili­ties of unilateral decisions that is being in­creasingly resorted to by some western pow­ers.

I believe it would be an oversimplifi­cation to view opposition to unilateral ap­proaches in international politics as the exclusive objective of the so called "trian­gle" of Russia, India and China. The posi­tions of our countries on this significant issue indeed coincide. However, one shouldn't forget that the majority

The new matrix

- Having forged a time-tested intimate relationship this has stood the two nations in good stead over a period of time.

- Russia appreciates India’s support for the former’s bid to gain an entry into WTO.

- Though trade not commensurate with the potential but both the countries have mutual economic complementarities and big opportunities for economic cooperation.

- As a strategic ally, India would be able to offer the most attractive terms for companies’ participation in the oil and gas sector in Russia

of the states worldwide share this platform. No doubt, our Western partners do also realise the importance of employing collective meth­ods, otherwise it would hardly be possible to tackle critical international issues, such as the crises in Iraq, the Middle East or the Korean peninsula, the threat of ter­rorism or WMD proliferation.

Moscow, New Delhi and Beijing are united by a common understanding of the global processes, the importance of their evolution towards the creation of a just and democratic world order, guaranteeing security and development for each state. We strongly advocate stepping up international efforts in the fight against new threats and challenges, terrorism in particular.

The growing pace of globalisation is encouraging Russia, India and China to participate more actively in various integration processes. In this respect the "triangle" has un­doubtedly emerged as one of the most promising regional arrange­ments, which in addition to other ac­tivities is now exploring the possibil­ities of economic engagement. This question was high on the agenda of the recent meeting between the. three countries' foreign ministers in Vladivos­tok. Feasible joint projects and key areas of economic interaction will be closely considered during the first meeting of Russian, Indian and Chinese business rep­resentatives scheduled for the end of this year.

India and Russia figure among emerging economies. Is there a need for both of them to form close association in view of the syn­ergies that exist between them?

Russia and India have evolved a long-term comprehensive structure of coopera­tion, encompassing intensive political dia­logue, wide-ranging interaction in econo­my, science and technology and education.

Both countries signed a sufficient num­ber of bilateral economic agreements dur­ing the last decade which provide a strong legal framework. However, trade and

economic rela­tions are currently not com­mensurate with their poten­tial level and the aim is to make them consonant with the vibrant nature of our strategic partnership. India and Russia, being among the largest and fastest grow­ing market economies in the world, have obvious mutual economic complementari­ties and large opportunities for greater cooperation. We must interact and supplement each other to be more competitive in the international market. There are huge prospects of collaboration in energy, including nuclear power, trans­portation industry, space exploration, high-tech, applied science, etc.

The recent discussions President Vladimir Putin had last May in Moscow with President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rein­forced our common understanding of ways to further strengthen and enhance the bilateral relations. Within the interna­tional framework Russia's joining the WTO will by all means stimulate the ex­pansion of the bilateral trade and econom­ic ties as well as give added impetus to the mutually beneficial cooperation in the global market. India's support of Russia in this process meets the interests of both countries.

The move to deprive veto to the prospec­tive new members in the reformed U.N. Secu­rity Council is an active thought. Don't you think that this would amount to discrimina­tion in the form of creating blocks of haves and have-nots?

Russia has repeatedly expressed support of In­dia's candidature for per­manent membership in the UN Security Council. It was reiterated by Presi­dent Putin during his vis­it to New Delhi last De­cember and during the visit of the Indian Presi­dent A.P. J.Abdul Kalam to Russia last May. Our posi­tion on this matter re­mains unchanged. In our view the U.N. is the corner­stone of the entire system of international relations and reform of this organi­sation should be aimed at enhancing its efficiency and authority, as well as strengthening collective security in general. Therefore, all decisions, including those on the ex­pansion of UNSC, must be taken on the basis of a broad agreement among the U.N. member-states.

India's increasing participation in the oil sector of Russia has been of interest to both sides. Should India be more aggressive in its strategy given the increasing competition from other oil demand driven states?

Russia is keen to expand cooperation with India in the field of exploration and production of oil and gas. We are certain that India, whose companies have

Convergence of Ideas

Russia, India and China seem to have convergence of views in a host of areas. The so-called "triangle" has emerged as a regional arrangement of substance which is also endowed with the role of exploring possibilities of economic engagement

been very active in the Russian market during the recent years, has all chances to become a  major partner in exploiting our country's enormous natural wealth. As regards competition from other demand driven states, it is something one can hardly avoid in the present-day globalised world. But it would be wrong to say that competition is always a negative factor. I have no doubt that India, being our strategic ally, will be able to offer the most attractive terms for its companies’ participation in the oil and gas sector in Russia. An aggressive approach would definitely constitute an advantage here, but even judging by headlines informing of the latest events in the global Indian takeover one can realize how aggressive Indians are in the most positive sense of this word. So I see no reason why Russia should remain an exception in this process.

Resolute and Unswerving

The military cooperation between India and Russia has been the bedrock of cooper­ation between the two sides. And now the accent is on economic ties. How far this has been successful?

We need to admit that despite con­stant efforts of both governments aimed at expanding the scope and increasing the volume of our trade and economic in­teraction its present level leaves much to be desired. In my opinion, this results not from want of opportunities for coopera­tion that are plenty but rather from lack of awareness thereof among the business communities of Russia and India. To make our economic ties more successful we have to identify new prospective areas of mutually beneficial joint activity where we would be able to match Russia's strengths and competitive advantages with India's demands and vice versa. I could name just a few sectors where Russian companies can succeed in India - oil and

Trade Talk

Blessed with a large number of bilaterals on the economic front, the two sides have set their sights on increasing trade to $25 bn in the coming years - and there is a need to identify new prospective areas of cooperation where Russia's strengths is matched with India's demands and vice versa.

gaz, petrochemicals, mines and metallurgy, power, infrastructure devel­opment, including construction of high­ways, ports, airports, mass rapid trans­port systems, power grid, pipelines etc, not to mention IT and biotechnologies where both Russians and Indians have all necessary qualities to become recognised world leaders in the near future. The bold and timely initiative voiced by Mr A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, during his recent visit to Russia, to increase the trade between the two countries to $ 25 billion in a few years' time shall become a guiding princi­ple for all Indian and Russian businessmen concerned, from CEOs of major companies to small and medium entre­preneurs. They will have to do their ut­most to implement this vigorous state­ment not just because of its high political value - after all, political considerations can rarely make pragmatic business peo­ple do something which is not profitable   for them – but simply because it will be extremely rewarding in the long run in terms of their own companies' growth.

Russia and CIS

Russia can't dilute the fact that the Commonwealth territory is important to it (More than 20 million Russians live in the "immediate neighbourhood" of the Russian Federation). Historical and economic linkages are there but more important is the overwhelming need to bring a semblance of order in states where it is not in existence.

The West, especial­ly the U.S., has been trying to reach out to the CIS (Common­wealth of Indepen­dent States). Do you support this initiative partially or look it the other way round?

First and fore­most I would like to note that Russia has its own interests within the CIS bor­ders. We make no secret of this fact and our Western partners must un­derstand the point. We are closely bound up with the former USSR re­publics by cultural and historical, as well as economic linkages. More than 20 million Russians nowadays live in the countries of the so called "immediate neighbourhood" of the Russian Federation. There are no rigid boundaries between the CIS countries, such as the USSR used to have with its neighbouring states. Thus Russia simply cannot escape the influence of the processes taking place on the Common­wealth territory.

Our primary interest in the CIS area is to maintain peace and stability. I believe that any state would be concerned about conflicts mushrooming near its borders. No matter how Russia's role in settling them may be interpreted, there is no doubt that it was Russia’s peace-keeping and intermediary efforts that put a stop to to many crises evolving on the post-Soviet space on the Yugoslavian pattern. Russia welcomes any number of initiatives, including those coming from our Western partners for settlement of the existing conflicts. At the same time actions from the outside can lead to fatal consequences if they are aimed at destabilising the situation under the pretext of spreading democracy in the regions where it cannot be established for lack of necessary internal preconditions.

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