The bilateral relations between India and Russia have been quite cordial and warm over the years. The two nations enjoy a strong military and diplomatic bond going back many decades now. India and Russia also enjoy a number of cultural and economic exchanges. Insomuch the two nations can be called allies.
During the Cold War era, USSR headed the Eastern bloc of nations of socialist and communist countries that remained polarized against the US led western bloc. Most developing nations, including India, remained neutral and decided against aligning with either bloc. At this time, though, India developed very close strategic, military, and economic ties with the USSR. Having newly gained independence from the British, India was struggling with numerous domestic challenges. USSR stepped in and aided in developing military might and infrastructure in India. In fact, till recently Russia remained the top arms supplier to India. Arms, ammunition, and even fighter planes that are considered the mainstay of the Indian Armed Forces – MiG-21 jets, Sukoi-301MKI fighter planes, T-55 and T-90 tanks – have all been supplied by Russia.
Till about the 1990s, the two nations have banked on each other’s support in international matters. Diplomatic ties between the nations have remained very strong. Erstwhile President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev undertook multiple visits to India and supported Indian leadership on international forums. In 1987, he was awarded the Indira Gandhi Prize by the Government of India. With the disintegration of the USSR, Russia inherited the legacy of friendship with India.
Over the past decades the India’s diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties with the US, European nations, and the world at large have strengthened. In 2011, the US overtook Russia as India’s largest arms supplier. India’s international outreach program and its ambitions of becoming a global manufacturing hub have led the country to look far beyond Russia.
The two countries do still maintain healthy diplomatic and economic ties. India and Russia look forward to increasing bilateral ties to about USD 30 billion by 2025. India will also look at gaining Russia’s support in its bid to find a seat as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.