Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet in Uzbekistan on Friday, the Kremlin has said, as the two countries aim to boost energy and trade ties.
“There are plans to discuss issues of ‘saturation’ of the Indian market with Russian fertiliser and bilateral food supplies,” it said on Tuesday mentioning the topics of the meeting to be held on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a regional security bloc.
“First of all, moves, aimed at boosting bilateral trade flows, will be looked at. The trade turnover reached $11.5bn in the first half of 2022, up almost 120 percent year-on-year,” the Kremlin said.
India’s fertiliser imports from Russia rose to $1.03bn in April-July compared with $773.54m in the whole of the last fiscal year to March 31, 2022, according to the Indian commerce ministry’s website.
India is looking for a three-year fertiliser import deal with Russia.
Attempts to sign a long-term fertiliser import deal earlier this year were hit by the challenging geopolitical situation after Russia launched what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24.
Prime Minister Modi has sought greater energy cooperation with Russia despite Western pressure to cut ties with Moscow following the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
“India is keen to strengthen its partnership with Russia on Arctic issues. There is also immense potential for cooperation in the field of energy,” Modi said last week addressing a virtual meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
Putin will also meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit in Uzbekistan’s ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand.
India and China are key buyers of Russian energy, helping to cushion Moscow from the effects of Western sanctions and allowing the two Asian economies to secure raw materials at discounts compared with supplies from other countries.
The two Asian nations have not publicly criticised Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, despite the outcry in the West.
India, which rarely used to buy Russian oil, has emerged as Moscow’s second-biggest oil customer after China.
Refiners in India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, have been snapping up discounted Russian oil, shunned by some Western countries and companies.
The Group of Seven countries is working to cap the price of Russian oil from December 5 in an attempt to cut the price Russia receives for oil without reducing its petroleum exports to world markets.
So far, India and China have not said if they will join the price cap mechanism.
Oil minister Hardeep Singh Puri last week said India would examine the issue when more details are available. He also said many conversations and proposals were taking place and “we will see who is participating” in the price cap mechanism.