Some people speak about how India-Russia relations are deteriorating citing examples of Russia’s rising relations with China and Pakistan, but they’re wrong. India-Russia ties are burgeoning, one example of which is the tri-services exercise that’ll take place in October between the armed forces of the two nations.
Probably the biggest indication that India and Russia are growing closer is the recent news about the two collaborating to build a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh. The two will build the Rooppur nuclear power plant, the first such initiative under an Indo-Russia deal to undertake atomic energy projects in third countries. This will also be India’s first atomic energy venture abroad signalling a newfound boldness in India’s foreign endeavours.
“We are collaborating with our Russian and Bangladeshi partners on establishing Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh,” Atomic Energy Commission chairman Sekhar Basu said. This is a very significant development for India’s nuclear establishment that couldn’t grow internationally due to sanctions imposed on India post the 1974 Pokhran tests.
India and Russia had signed in December 2014 a ‘Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy’ that said: “two sides will explore opportunities for sourcing materials, equipment and services from Indian industry for the construction of the Russian- designed nuclear power plants in third countries”.
India had also signed a civil nuclear cooperation deal with Bangladesh in April under which the two sides can supply and manufacture equipment, material for the atomic power plant. The Rooppur project near Dhaka is Bangladesh’s first atomic energy project. Bangladesh will become the third South Asian country after India and Pakistan to harness energy from atomic fission.
India’s nuclear sector will see unprecedented growth as the Modi government recently approved the construction of 10 new indigenously built nuclear power projects.
“With these reactors, we will now have 21 reactors under construction and 22 reactors in operation. This will increase the capacity to over 22,000 MW by the end of next decade,”he said.
This Indo-Russia project is largely a geopolitical move to counter China’s influence in South Asian nations like Bangladesh. This shows that the Modi government is willing to charter unknown territory if it implies strengthening of India’s stature on the world stage.