By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar
Benaulim, Goa– Russia and India are firmly committed to fighting terrorism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday, while also hinting that Moscow has supported the Indian Army’s recent cross-border surgical strikes at terror launch pads in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The Russian support for India’s anti-terror actions marked a significant diplomatic victory for India, which has sought to corner Pakistan over its role in sponsoring and aiding terrorists.
In a joint media conference with visiting President Vladimir Putin after their annual bilateral summit here, Prime Minister Modi said he deeply appreciated Russia’s support of “our actions to fight cross-border terrorism that threatens our entire region”.
Modi didn’t name Pakistan or mention the September 29 cross-border raids by elite Indian commandos. But a joint statement issued after his meeting with Putin said the President “reaffirmed Russia’s continued commitment… and noted the commonality of positions of both the countries on issues (like) war on terrorism”.
Asked if Modi’s remarks pertain to the surgical strikes by the Indian Army, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, in a separate news conference, referred to the joint statement that said “the Indian side expressed its appreciation for Russia’s unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attack on (the) army base in Uri”.
The Uri carnage on September 18 by suspected Pakistani Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, which left 19 Indian soldiers dead, provoked India’s cross-border surgical strikes. The raid across the Line of Control (LoC) killed an unspecified number of terrorists and their sympathisers and destroyed seven terror launch pads.
In an obvious reference to Pakistan, Modi and Putin in the statement “strongly condemned terrorism… stressed the need to deny safe havens to terrorists and the importance of countering the spread of terrorist ideology as well as radicalisation, stopping recruitment, preventing travel of terrorists and foreign terrorist fighters”.
With President Putin standing next to him, Modi told reporters that “Russia’s clear stand on the need to combat terrorism mirrors our own”.
The remarks are significant as India has launched a diplomatic blitz to isolate Pakistan, a country it accuses of sponsoring and aiding cross-border terrorism. Following India’s diplomatic war, Islamabad denied an imminent global isolation and flagged China and Russia as its supporters.
Calling India an “important strategic partner” and expressing Russia’s resolve to “fight terrorism”, Putin said the two countries are conducting a comprehensive dialogue process “on a wide range of global issues, in which India and Russian approaches are close to each other or coincide”.
India and Russia also signed 16 agreements worth several billion dollars and announced three deals, boosting their military, strategic, energy and economic cooperation.
Among the agreements signed were one for the setting up of a joint venture to build at least 200 Kamov helicopters, procurement of the S-400 missile system and construction of 1,135 series of frigates in India.
The S-400 missile system can target multiple airborne objects at a distance of 400 km and will significantly strengthen India’s border defence along the frontiers with China and Pakistan.
One of the biggest agreements include Russian state oil company Rosneft and an investment consortium led by Trafigura signing a pact to acquire 98 per cent stake in Essar Oil for $10.9 billion, and pay another $2 billion to buy Vadinar Port from the Indian industrial group.
Modi hailed Russia as “an old friend of India” and said the ties between the two countries were “truly privileged and unique”.
The two leaders also laid the foundation concrete of units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam nuclear plant being built jointly by the two countries in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
Putin also said Russia was likely to build a dozen nuclear reactors in India over the next two decades to boost electricity generation in energy-hungry India. (IANS)