Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Wednesday addressed the Diplomatic Academy of Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs during his two-day visit to enhance the strategic partnership between both the nations. While addressing the enhanced India-Russia relations, Shringla said that it was only ‘fitting’ that Moscow is the first abroad visit for the Foreign minister in 2021 amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Shringla said that his two-day visit to Russia was ‘very important’ from a number of point of views and also stressed the importance to keep the relations growing even amid the global health crisis. He informed that his interaction with Russian Deputy Minister Igor Morgulov and his delegation was “very productive” and “fruitful”.
Beyond the India-Russia bilateral relationship, Shringla said that both sides have “a lot of common interests”. Shringla also said that he had a telephonic conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who described the ties between both nations as “very close, very special, very privileged and very strategic”. Further, the Foreign Minister also noted that the year 2020 marked the two decades since India and Russia established the strategic relationship and 10th anniversary of its elevation to its special and privileged partnership.
Foreign Minister said, “The long-term conversions of our interests, sensitivity to each other’s concerns, mutual respect and trust shared by Prime Minister Modi and President Vladimir Putin. Growing people to people contacts are the key drivers of our bilateral partnership.”
“Our Prime Minister and President Putin have met 19 times in the last six years. I don’t think there have been any other high-level contacts as regular as close as India and Russia. This itself is a strong indication of the importance of our leadership attaches to this vital relationship,” he added before mentioning the the “main elements” of the relationship.
Shringla also mentioned that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 is currently undergoing tests in India and said that “we expect emergency authorisation to be given at the earliest possible stage” and added that “after which, we will jointly manufacture the vaccines and use it in different parts of the world”. The Foreign secretary also hailed Russia’s vaccination programme while also mentioning that to date India has immunised 8 million people.
“We have also made Indian vaccine available to different parts of the world, in our neighbourhood, in the Gulf, in Africa, Latin America and this is our Prime Minister’s commitment to not only ensure that Indian vaccines are not only affordable and accessible but are made available to all of humanity,” he said while adding “India produces 60% of the world’s vaccine.”