India and Russia on Tuesday decided to form a permanent bilateral channel for consultations on Afghanistan and Afghan-based terror. This was decided when PM Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a detailed dialogue on the situation in the land-locked country following the Taliban takeover.

The mechanism will be formed at a senior level and the details will be worked out soon.

“Had a detailed and useful exchange of views with my friend President Putin on recent developments in Afghanistan. We also discussed issues on the bilateral agenda, including India-Russia cooperation against Covid-19. We agreed to continue close consultations on important issues,” Modi tweeted after his 45-minute conversation with Putin.

During the exchange of views, both sides noted the importance of the coordinated efforts which would contribute to the establishment of peace and stability in this country, ensuring security in the region as a whole, according to a readout from the Russian Government.

The two leaders expressed their intention to enhance cooperation on countering the dissemination of the terrorist ideology and the drug threat emanating from Afghanistan, according to the readout.

India, Russia to form Permanent High-level Consultation Channel

“A number of questions pertaining to further development of Russia-India relations of the special and privileged strategic partnership, including in trade and economy, were also touched upon,” according to the Russian government statement.

During the telephone conversation, the schedule of the upcoming contacts at various levels was discussed. Russia on Monday announced that it will start supplying S-400 missile defence system from this year end. Putin is expected here before the end of the year for the annual summit, the significance of which has increased manifold in the prevailing circumstances. Ahead of the Summit, Moscow is expected to host maiden 2+ 2 Ministerial (Foreign & Defence) meet.

Earlier this month, Putin was the only P-5 President to attend the India-initiated maritime security meet in UNSC. This was considered as a show of support to Modi with whom Putin shares a strong chemistry.

The phone call comes close on the heels of the deputy NSA’s visit to Moscow last week to meet his Russian counterpart to discuss the Afghan situation as the two sides decided to step up coordination.

Meanwhile, as part of Covid-related cooperation, Sputnik V is expected to beef up production here from this month end and September.

Even as it maintains dialogue with the Taliban, Russia has re-emerged as a key player in the Afghan theatre and is worried over the spill over of Taliban takeover in Kabul into Central Asia. Earlier, Russia had launched the Moscow format of dialogue for talks with Taliban besides initiating the Troika Plus format involving the US and China. In many ways, Russia remains the most important security player in the region as the biggest and most powerful military power in Eurasia and in its extended neighbourhood. There have been speculations that India-Russia-Iran may revive trilateral cooperation to safeguard their interests in Afghanistan.

Russia is beefing up its military establishment in Tajikistan to deter any threats from Afghanistan. The latest Kornet anti-tank missile systems have reinforced the 201st Russian military base stationed in Tajikistan.

The 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan is Russia’s largest military facility outside its borders. The military base is stationed in Dushanbe and Bokhtar. The military base comprises motor rifle, armoured, artillery and reconnaissance units, air defence forces, radiation, chemical and biological protection and signal troops. Under an agreement signed in 2012, Russia’s military base in Tajikistan will remain until 2042.