Russia and India, two of the greatest nations in the world, enjoy a history, present, and future of the exceptionally strong and vital diplomatic relationship and partnership. Russia and India have a privileged relationship with shared efforts in strategic, military, education, and economic development of both nations.
Cheerful friendliness between Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also given new wings to the people’s commitment, devotion, and cooperation towards both nations.
On April 12, 2019, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi received Russia’s highest state honor 'Order of St Andrew the Apostle' awarded by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. As per the official order statement, the honor was awarded in recognition of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s “Distinguished Achievement in development of the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of India and friendly relations between Russian and India People.” The award also represents a testimony to the cordial relations that the countries and their leaders share.
People of India and Russia share a deep bond of emotion nurtured by decades of warm-hearted care, friendship, and shared moments of joy and distress. As per the survey, 85% of the Russians view India as a favorable country. Interestingly, in another study, it was found that Russians identify India as their top five friends! Due to mutual respect, compassion, and care, Russians feel at home in India, and so do Indians in Russia.
While it’s next to impossible to make a record of every major event in the history of India-Russia relations, here is a brief timeline with historical events that shaped and nurtured the relationship between India and Russia through the centuries:
Afanasy Nikitin was probably the first and definitely one of the first Russians to travel to India in 1468 and document his journey.
In the 18th century, Indians started frequently visiting big Russian cities like Moscow and Saint Petersberg facilitating trade between India and Western Europe.
In 1955, then India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, along with daughter Indira Gandhi, visited Russia (then the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; USSR or the Soviet Union). The same year, Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet statesman, visited India.
In 1965, following the world-famous Indian-Pakistani border war regarding the issue of Kashmir, Russia served as a peace broker.
In 1971, India and the Soviet Union signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.
In 1985, the then India’s Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made his first foreign visit to Moscow (now the capital city of Russia), and alongside the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, signed economic agreements.
In 1986, Soviet Politician Mikhail Gorbachev made his first official trip to Asia and came to India to make the India-Soviet relationship stronger and met Rajiv Gandhi.
In 2000, 'Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership' signed by India’s then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during President Putin’s visit to India.
In 2012, Russia’s President Putin visited India, and the bilateral leaders cemented and synergized the cooperation. At the time, India’s then Prime Minister Manmohan Sign firmly said, “Indo-Russian partnership having a special place in the hearts and minds. President Putin is a valued friend of India and the original architect of the India-Russia strategic partnership.”
In 2017, to celebrate 70 years of India-Russia official partnership, President Putin published an article in The Times of India Editorial and, inter alia, stated: “In the decades that have followed, our bilateral partnership has further intensified and strengthened, and has never been subject to expediency.”
In 2019, Prime Minister Modi visited Russia to attend the 20th India – Russia Annual Summit. 15 new bilateral co-operation signed by Prime Ministry Modi and President Putin in the summit.
“We always come to India with great pleasure and even excitement because we know that here we will find an atmosphere of very sincere friendship and business cooperation. Our nations have enjoyed long and close relations of friendship, mutual respect, and sympathy. Russia and India have always been interested in each other’s culture and spiritual heritage. This is confirmed by the great success of the Indian Festival in Russia.”
- Vladimir Putin
Hon’ble President of Russia
“Foundations of India-Russia friendship are deep & the future of our partnership is bright. Extensive cooperation between our nations has led to extraordinary outcomes for our citizens. President Putin remains a source of great strength for the India-Russia friendship. Under his visionary leadership, bilateral and multilateral cooperation between our nations has scaled new heights.”
- Narendra Modi,
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
“Relations with India have always been and, I am sure, will be one of the most important foreign policy priorities of our country. And at the same time, our strategic partnership will grow stronger. Our mutual friendships are imbued with sympathy, trust, and openness. And I must frankly say that they have never been clouded by disagreements or conflicts. Such mutual understanding is indeed the common heritage of our peoples. He is valued and cherished in our country, in Russia, and in India.”
- Dmitry Medvedev
Hon’ble Prime Minister of Russia
Former President of Russia
“We are confident that India lives in the hearts of every Russian. In exactly the same way, I can assure you that Russia also lives in our souls as a homeland, as a people that share our emotions, our feelings of mutual respect, and constant friendship.”
- Pratibha Patil
Former President of India
“India-Russia relationship is one of deep friendship and mutual confidence that would not be affected by transient political trends. Russia has been a pillar of strength at difficult moments in India's history. India will always reciprocate this support. Russia is and will remain our most important defence partner and a key partner for our energy security, both on nuclear energy and hydrocarbons.”
- Pranab Mukherjee
Former President of India
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