Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is embarking on his maiden visit to Russia from December 23-24 aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries in mainly the economic and defence sectors by reviving the age-old strategic partnership. Russian President Vladimir Putin is also looking to cement deals with Modi. When Putin visited India in 2014, Moscow was in the thick of the Ukraine crisis.
IB Times UK takes a look at some of main items on the agenda for the visit:
Defence ties: The biggest takeaway from the visit is expected to be reaffirming the military and defence partnership as India, being a traditional buyer of weapons from Russia, has moved closer to the US and other countries in recent years. Modi's government plans to spend close to $150bn to upgrade his military which presents Putin with a much needed opportunity as his government braces for a second year of recession amid Western sanctions.
A joint manufacturing project of 200 helicopters has already been disclosed. Defence ministry sources in India have also said the country is looking to lease a second nuclear submarine from Russia after the purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems just last week. India will also seek to negotiate deals on purchase of 48 military transport helicopters, and about 150 armoured vehicles.
Economic ties: Expansion of economic and bilateral trade ties is also going to be in focus at the summit with CEOs from both sides meeting and the two countries likely to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Zone. Currently, bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $10bn, which the two aim to enhance to $30bn in the next 10 years.
Energy cooperation: To scale up cooperation in the nuclear energy sector, India and Russia are likely to sign an agreement on cooperation in civilian nuclear energy. There has been talk of India offering Russia a new site for construction of a nuclear power plant in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh which will be home to six reactors. Preliminary discussions on a proposed gas pipeline between India and Russia, via China, are also expected.
Russia's backing for India's UN seat: India's quest for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council has been a long and tough one with both Russia and the US verbally backing the South Asian nation's bid but none putting it down in writing. During his visit, Modi is likely to harp upon a more assertive backing by Russia for the seat.
Information on Subhash Chandra Bose: Modi is also likely to bring up the issue regarding Indian freedom fighter Shubhash Chandra Bose's death mystery. Theories have been floated in the Indian media, political circles and even by the Bose family about his presence in Russia post 1945 when he is supposed to have died in a plane crash in Taiwan. India will seek to get any classified information from the Russian government on Bose.
On 23 December evening, Putin will host a dinner for Modi in Moscow and the talks are scheduled to start the next day. Modi will also address about 3,000 members of the Indian community at the Expocentre in Moscow on 24 December.