This year BRICS members Russia and India are celebrating the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

The two countries have built strong economic, defense, scientific and cultural ties. The cornerstones of this cooperation are Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS. Both of these are economic organizations. The SCO however, also has a stronger military/security component. In some ways, it is like NATO.

Trade turnover between Russia and India has grown six-fold over the last 15 years, exceeding $7 billion in 2016.

This turnover has been up by more than 20 percent this year. Both sides have an ambitious goal of increasing bilateral trade to $30 billion annually by 2025. The partners aim to switch payments to national currencies in order to remove trade barriers and reduce dollar addiction. They also plan on introducing a free trade regime between India and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to expand trade cooperation.

India’s fast-growing economy provides good opportunities for doing business, particularly in manufacturing. The government is actively inviting Russian companies to cooperate, providing all the necessary support. According to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “Russia has always been and remains a very attractive partner for Indian companies and their interest in cooperation is growing”.

Defense ties are the strongest pillar of India-Russia relationship. During his last year’s official visit to Moscow Modi inked a number of multi-billion dollar defense and nuclear energy deals. He has also approved the purchase of five S-400 air defense systems from Russia as part of the biggest arms deal between the two nations in a decade.

The sides are expanding their energy cooperation. India has a large investment in Russian hydrocarbon sector, amounting to $4.5 billion. The country considers investing in hydrocarbon exploration in the Arctic in addition to the Russian Vankor oil field in Siberia. Moscow, in turn, plans to supply India with 10 million tons of oil annually.

The now seventy-year-long partnership seeks to expand cooperation. There are significant plans for peaceful nuclear power. Last year, Modi and the Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the second phase of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. It is currently being built in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu by Russia’s Rosatom. The plant’s third and fourth units are already under construction.

Moscow has promised to build at least 12 new nuclear reactors in India by 2035.

Experts say that through the past seven decades the relationship between these BRICS members has grown into a special and privileged partnership. According to Russian Envoy to India Nikolay Kudashev, a partnership between the two countries is “second to none.” In an article devoted to the seventy years of the India-Russia friendship, PM Modi said their “relations have withstood the test of time, and grown from strength to strength.”

“The resilience of our relationship is based on the fact that it rests on the principles of equality, trust, and mutual benefit,” he wrote.


Zarina Tsomayeva is a sociologist and business journalist working in English, Arabic, Spanish and Russian. She is from Ossetia and is based in Moscow Russia. 

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