India’s Relations with Russia - The Best Friends

After gaining independence from Britain in 1947, India has managed to maintain a thriving strategic and enduring relationship with Russia that entailed political camaraderie.
India’s Relations with Russia - The Best Friends

The foundations of this interrelationship stem from the early Cold War era, when India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru advocated for non-alignment and involved itself with communist countries like the Soviet Union. During the last decade, the Indo-Russian partnership has endured various shifts in global geopolitical relations adjusting itself to a constantly changing pattern of international politics. This article examines the complex relationship between India and Russia, covering landmark developments in cooperation strategies, as well as how this long-lasting friendship has changed over time.

The underlying Indo-Russia relationship was provided during the Nehruvian era when India wanted to stress its independent position in the figures of Cold War conflicts. The Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, signed in 1971 was a major achievement that consolidated relations between these two countries. This treaty which was signed at a critical juncture when India had to face various challenges revealed the depth of strategic relations. The support that the Soviet Union constantly offered to India during its Bangladesh Liberation War further strengthened it and paved a set path for many decades of cooperation.

Strategic Cooperation and Defense Ties

The strategic partnership between India and Russia forms the bedrock of their bilateral relationship. As an exception, defence ties have been a particularly strong feature, from which Russia emerged as the main arms teacher for India. The defence cooperation covers a wide variety of industries from the provision and delivery of fighter jets, tanks as well as naval ships to joint project ventures. A significant one are production of the BrahMos cruise missile which is a reflection of the technological capabilities and cooperation between the two nations.

 The continued defence cooperations build on India’s defence capabilities, furthering the strategic foundation of bilateral engagement.

Although defence and strategic coordination are a large part of the relationship, economic interactions and trade have also been prominent. India and Russia have looked to broaden their staple economic activities targeting sectors such as energy, space exploration, and nuclear power. In the case of energy, there has been significant collaborative activity; Indian companies have invested in Russian oil and gas projects. There have been endeavours made to promote bilateral trade and economic relations between the two nations, as both parties are aware of the unutilized area in this regard.

Nuclear Cooperation

The nuclear realm has been an important field of cooperation between India and Russia. The two nations have cooperatively constructed the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu which serves as a symbol of their cooperation on nuclear power. The strength of the relationship between Russia and India has been consistently reinforced through Russian support for Indian nuclear ambitions, even in times when global challenges to non-proliferation abound. In the year 2014, they signed a ‘Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy,” which clearly enhanced their commitment to advancing nuclear cooperation.

Diplomatic Alignment in a Changing World

One of the key features that characterized India and Russia’s diplomatic relations has been their aligned positions on vital global issues. Both countries have generally held similar approaches to issues on multipolarity, reform of international organizations, and the necessity for a just world order. This synchronicity has been most pronounced in platforms such as the United Nations where India and Russia have partnered jointly on matters from counter-terrorism to climate change. Their integrated strategy in the international arena is indicative to some degree of meeting halfway and a desire to design a new world that would cater for developing nations.

Although the Indo-Russian relationship is persistent, there are numerous changes observed in the geopolitical arena that came after the end of the Cold War. India’s relationship with the United States, China as a global powerhouse and also changing order in international relations have demonstrated challenges as well as opportunities to Indo-Russian relations. Handling these nuances demands agile diplomatic dexterity and the willingness to adjust to emerging geopolitical dynamics.

While robust, the Indo-Russian relationship is not invulnerable to outside pressure. The shift in South Asian power, the emergence of regional powers and the phenomenon of new geopolitical fault lines are some challenges that require consideration. A delicate balance is needed between various geopolitical interests and the core of the partnership, with both nations being able to adapt when confronted by a changing international landscape.


The future of the relationship between India and Russia appears to be filled with optimism as they continue to find themselves in a world that is highly competitive. Both countries have made a promise to improve their strategic cooperation in several areas. The process of signing agreements and joint statements, including the 2019 ‘Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership’, suggests that new directions for cooperation are being considered. The continuous dialogue at the summit leaves no room for doubt about leadership’s unwavering commitment to maintaining and enhancing this lifelong engagement.

India and Russia have had a broad-based strategic partnership since independence. The balancing of Indo-Russian relations has held despite the transition from the Cold War to that of multipolarity. Defence cooperation, economic engagements, nuclear collaboration and diplomatic alignment are the major highlights of this long-standing partnership. As India and Russia adjust to the changing dynamics of global politics, their attachment to shared interests and common values offers a starting point for addressing challenges and opportunities in this new order.