Denis Alipov said Russia and India continue to successfully implement flagship initiatives, which make the cooperation 'unparalleled'

NEW DELHI: Russia has been in war with its East European neighbour Ukraine for over a hundred days now. President Vladimir Putin launched a ‘special military operation’ on 24 February on Ukraine. Since then millions have fled the country and millions continue to fight the battle against Russian troops.

As a result of the war, Russia also faces several economic sanctions imposed on it by the Western superpowers. The economic toll on Russia, though difficult to quantify, has spread widely, from its largest companies to its small shops and workers.

The central bank has slashed interest rates to prop up the country's economy, however, it has also warned that ‘ the coming months will be difficult’ for both companies and citizens.

Russia has become isolated from Western suppliers. Prices of consumer goods have been soaring, with the inflation rate rising to 17.8%. Sales in the lucrative energy sector, while still high, are projected to fall as European customers begin to pivot away from Russian oil. Airlines, cut off from Western manufacturers, are searching for spare parts.

At such a time, Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov, in a foreword in the Russian Digest magazine has said that Russia cherishes its "equal and respectful" relations with India. The foreword was written on the occasion of the 75th year of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Russia.

Alipov further stated that the multidimensional cooperation between the two strategic partners is among the world's "most elaborate" ones.

The envoy has also said the positions of the two countries on "core issues remain similar or coinciding" and that there are plenty of new opportunities for the Indian business in the Russian market, especially against the backdrop of the withdrawal of many western companies from the country.

Alipov praised both India and Russia and their diplomatic relations for upholding the central role of the United Nations (UN) towards "just and equal multipolarity" and "opposing unilateral and confrontational approaches".

He said Russia and India continue to successfully implement flagship initiatives, which make the cooperation "unparalleled".

Among those, the envoy said are the Kudankulam nuclear power plant project in Tamil Nadu, the AK-203 rifles manufacturing programme and the production of the main battle tanks as well as frigates, submarines and Brahmos missiles.

He also said the delivery of S-400 air defence missile systems to India is proceeding well in accordance with the schedule.

"Russia deeply cherishes equal and respectful relations with India. Our cooperation plays the role of a defining factor for global peace, stability and sustainable development," Alipov said.

"We are confident in the future of our bilateral ties and are ready to move forward in utilising their potential and exploring new horizons for the benefit of the people of our two friendly nations," he added.

Alipov's comments came in the midst of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. India is yet to condemn the Russian action and has pressed for the resolution of the crisis through dialogue.

Referring to 75 years of the India-Russia ties, Alipov said both countries succeeded in building a "true friendship and mutual trust" in these years.

"Today's Russia-India multidimensional cooperation is one of the world's most elaborate ones with regular meetings of the two intergovernmental commissions, sector-wise ministerial, security advisors' and senior officials' dialogue, foreign office consultations and coordination in the global arena," he said.

The envoy said Russia and India were among the first countries in the world to establish the practice of annual bilateral summits.

"Our positions on core issues remain similar or coinciding, stressing the need to uphold the central role of the United Nations towards just and equal multipolarity and opposing unilateral and confrontational approaches," Alipov said.

He said both India and Russia continue close coordination on the agenda of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as well as G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

"With the increased volumes of bilateral trade by more than 45 per cent in 2021, this positive trend is supplemented in 2022 by intensified cooperation in energy and fertilisers," Alipov said.

He said priority is being given to the implementation of the North-South transport corridor project and an early conclusion of the free trade pact between the Eurasian Economic Union and India.

"Along with ongoing projects in connectivity, diamond processing, healthcare, tourism, railways, metallurgy, civil aviation, shipbuilding, oil refinery and petrochemicals, there are plenty of new opportunities for the Indian business in the Russian market, especially against the backdrop of withdrawal of many western companies," Alipov said.

He also said Russia will strive to "strengthen international peace and ensure global security and stability with a view to establishing a fair and democratic international system that addresses global issues on the basis of collective decision-making, the rule of international law, indivisible security and the generally accepted principles of equal rights, mutual respect and non-interference in domestic affairs".