Energy partnership between India and Russia
India and Russia will strike an energy partnership when Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to prepare the way for two Siberian oil deals and chart a route for a first pipeline between the two countries. But a joint ‘vision’ document is likely to lack hard details, with terms still being thrashed out for ONGC Videsh to acquire an interest in Rosneft’s Vankor and Yurubcheno-Tokhomskoye oilfields, officials and industry sources on both sides say.
There are doubts over the viability of proposed oil and gas pipeline routes that would either cross conflict-ridden Afghanistan and Pakistan – India’s arch enemy – or mountainous tracts of inner China. Russia, isolated by the West over its annexation of Crimea and backing of an armed uprising in eastern Ukraine, has a friendship with India that dates back to the Soviet era.
“In the present circumstances, when Europe is trying to isolate Russia, Putin wants to show that he has friends in the world,” said Gulshan Sachdeva, head of the Centre for European Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. “Modi and Putin are similar leaders. They like to announce big schemes,” Sachdeva added. “It might make sense to do so – whether or not they come to fruition is another matter.”
New Delhi explicitly rules out joining Western sanctions against Russia although Modi has struck up an increasingly warm friendship with President Barack Obama since winning power in May, and will host the U.S. leader in January.