Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday hailed at length the bilateral diplomatic relationship between Russia and India, saying that the ties between the two allies have been developing “robustly” over the course of decades and “rests on a solid foundation of friendship.

” Speaking on the occasion of ‘Russian Knowledge Day’ with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Lavrov maintained that India has always been Russia’s “one of the key priorities.” The longstanding relations between the two countries since India’s independence have been characterised “as the special and privileged strategic partnership,” the Russian foreign minister categorically stressed.

As Russia ordered the military intervention in neighbouring Ukraine, Lavrov had taken a swipe at its adversary United States on the subject of Moscow’s diplomacy with New Delhi. In a strongly worded statement, Lavrov clarified that some nations (such as India) are going to have their own relationship with the Russian Federation. “It’s a fact of history. It’s a fact of geography. That is not something that we are seeking to change,” he had stressed.

On Friday, the Russian minister reminded that the West cannot coerce the “entire world” to terminate bilateral cooperation with Russia or to impose sanctions threatening consequences. “It’s common sense,” asserted Lavrov, “how can they make such arrogant public statements in relation to such countries as India,” he continued, all the while also naming other Russian allies such as Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia and BRICS member nation China. “It is simply insulting to hear such demands,” said Lavrov. 

The Russian foreign minister reiterated India’s approach of “proactive neutrality” with respect to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which was made visible at the UN general assembly, where New Delhi abstained on resolutions on Russian war crimes. “Indian leaders, including my colleague, Dr S.Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister, have publicly rejected any attempts to involve them in restrictions on the Russian energy purchases,” Lavrov said. The latter recalled Russia’s close cooperation with India in the energy sector. “Indian companies work with us in Siberia and the Far East. Close and especially confidential military-technical cooperation, including the production of appropriate modern weapons on the Indian territory,” he outlined.

Russia and India, over the last several years, have also diversified ties in the agricultural sector, Lavrov said. “We are now trying to develop together in the so-called ‘green transition,” he further stressed, speaking about the cooperation between Russia and India across various important and critical sectors including the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Russian state energy corporation Rosatom’s R&D unit signed a pact to supply sensors designed for thermal control of NPP process equipment situated in Tamil Nadu. “Substantive negotiations are now underway to prepare a site for another nuclear power plant,” Russia’s foreign minister revealed during the address. 

“We are satisfied with Russia-India relations,” Lavrov stressed, categorically, adding that in 2021, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had decided to hold an in-person meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two leaders will meet again during the forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit to be held in Samarkand between 15-16 September 2022. Russia’s FM lauded the common history of Russia and India and the deep respect that exists in India for the role that Moscow played in ensuring India’s independence and in developing its economy.