India and Russia are expected to hold their first 2+2 dialogue of defence and foreign ministers in Moscow by mid-November, and this could be followed by an annual summit in December.

A number of agreements in the defence, economic, trade, and science and technology spheres are expected to be signed during the summit, India’s outgoing ambassador to Russia, BV Varma said.

The two sides are also set to announce the joint commission on technology and science and extend their military-technical cooperation for the period 2021-2031, Varma said in an interview with TASS news agency.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar are expected to travel to Moscow for the first 2+2 dialogue with Russia. India has similar dialogues only with the US, Japan and Australia.

Varma said both sides are working to take forward cooperation in diverse areas during the bilateral summit. “Both sides are actively working on it. There is a high possibility that the summit is taking place in December,” he said.

Referring to the 2+2 dialogue, Varma said it was “important for friends like India and Russia to have an additional level of consultations”.

“For example, India and Russia can have more focused cooperation in Central Asia, in the Indian Ocean region. A number of developments, including relating to Afghanistan, have created new challenges. And I think the 2+2 dialogue will be a very important addition to the architecture of dialogue that you have rightly pointed out already exists,” he said.

Varma said there has been a diversification of India-Russia relations in recent years, and the Indian side is considering major projects in the energy sector and long-term arrangements for coking coal and fertilisers. In the defence field, the value of contracts had gone up from about $2-3 billion dollars a year in 2018 to about $9-10 billion dollars, he said.

“We have major defence contracts already under implementation. The S-400 is one of them. We also have a contract relating to the manufacture and production of 1135.6 frigates...,” Varma said.

The production of more than 700,000 AK-203 rifles will be done in India, and New Delhi is going to buy additional Su-30-MKI and MiG-29 jets and 400 more T-90 tanks, the envoy said. “Russia has moved back again as the top defence partner of India,” he added.

Asked about a meeting between Indian officials and Taliban leaders on the margins of the Moscow Format meet last month, Varma said: “There was a meeting with the Taliban. We put forward our points of view, the Taliban put forward their points of view. This is the dialogue that we continue”.

“No decisions were taken either way on both sides. But I think India will engage in the humanitarian situation because the humanitarian situation is quite serious and India’s always placed the well-being of the Afghan people as the topmost priority,” he added.