Both sides are holding talks to firm up the visit around the second week of December even as Russia is preparing to make the delivery of the first batch of S-400 missile systems to India within the next one month
India and Russia have also reached the final phase of negotiation for a logistics support agreement and it is likely to be signed either during the two-plus-two talks or at the summit. The pact will allow militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.
The unfolding humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and implications of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul for regional security are expected to figure prominently at the summit. Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev visited India in September as part of a follow-up to the telephonic conversation between Modi and Putin on the developments in Afghanistan. Patrushev again visited India this week to attend the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan. Apart from Russia and India, the dialogue was attended by top security officials of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
At the dialogue, the eight participating nations vowed to work towards ensuring that Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for global terrorism and called for the formation of an “open and truly inclusive” government in Kabul. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited India in April that was learnt to be aimed at preparing the ground for the annual India-Russia summit. The summit was postponed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both the countries have a mechanism under which India’s prime minister and the Russian president hold a summit meeting annually to review the entire gamut of ties. So far, 20 annual summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia. Russia has been a time-tested partner for India and the country has been a key pillar of New Delhi’s foreign policy. On the S-400 deal, the people cited above said both sides are committed to it.
In October 2018, India had signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, despite a warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions. India made the first tranche of payment of around USD 800 million to Russia for the missile systems in 2019. The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
Following US sanctions on Turkey, there have bee apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures on India. The supply of S-400 missiles to India by Russia are expected to begin later his year.