India-Russia explore partnership with Asean as part of Indo-Pacific construct

India and Russia, following the recent senior-level consultations led by the foreign secretary in Moscow, have decided to explore a partnership in the Indo-Pacific region with special focus on the Asean region and SE Asia.

New Delhi and Moscow are in talks to join hands with Asean-related bodies as part of their emerging Indo-Pacific partnership besides widening their connectivity and business links in East Asia and North-East Asia, ET has reliably gathered.

The foreign secretary’s visit witnessed free and frank dialogue on the Indo-Pacific construct in the backdrop of Russian views that the US-led Indo-Pacific vision is aimed at targeting Moscow’s interests, ET has learnt. He shared the Indian perspective on the Indo-Pacific with the Russian side. It is understood that the Russian side is receptive to India’s suggestions and is expected to explore bilateral partnership in the Asean with focus on post-pandemic economic re-building.

India has been emphasising on a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region and as part of its inclusivity concept views Russia as a Pacific power and a key player in the Indo-Pacific region.

Russia is crucial to all three regions (Eurasia, Indo-Pacific and the Russian Far East, and the Arctic), and India and Russia will agree much more than they will disagree on the strategic direction, the inherent and necessary multi-polarity, and the security and prosperity of these regions, the foreign secretary had remarked while addressing the Diplomatic Academy during his Moscow visit.

Moscow and New Delhi have started to cooperate in certain geographical zones in the Indo-Pacific region. Both are working towards early operationalisation of the $1 billion line of credit (LoC) for developmental projects in the Russian Far East as part of the Act Far East Policy. India has energy investments in Russian Far-East and has made initial moves to invest in other areas in the region.

India-Japan-Russia held their Trilateral Track-2 Dialogue for cooperation in the Russian Far East in January. Energy, coal mining, transport and logistics, maritime connectivity, diamond processing, agro-industry, forestry, pharma, healthcare, high technology, scientific research, capacity-building, tourism and humanitarian fields have been identified as potential areas of trilateral cooperation.

Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla also highlighted in his various interactions that India and Russia are already cooperating at the practical level in the Indo-Pacific –– the initiative announced by PM Narendra Modi at the Vladivostok Summit of an Eastern Maritime Corridor connecting the ports of Chennai and Vladivostok. The Chennai-Vladivostok maritime link was operational during the Soviet period.

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