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Sanctions-hit Russia will build 10 new nuclear reactors in India

12 December 2014

Russia will build 10 more nuclear reactors in energy-starved India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Thursday, after talks with President Vladimir Putin aimed at shoring up ties between the long-time allies.

Putin is in New Delhi seeking to strengthen energy, defense and strategic ties in Asia in an attempt to revive Russia’s economy, badly hit by US and EU sanctions over its backing of an uprising in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, according to

At a joint press conference Modi, who has sought to cultivate closer ties with the United States since taking power in May, pledged India’s continued support for Russia, according to AFP. “The importance of this relationship and its unique place in India’s foreign policy will not change,” he said.

Modi, who swept to power promising to boost flagging growth, said energy security was “critical for India’s economic development and creating jobs for our youth”. “We have outlined an ambitious vision for nuclear energy of at least 10 more reactors”, he said.

Russia has supplied two reactors to a plant at Kudankulam in southern India under a long-delayed agreement, and has been pushing to supply more. The two countries signed 20 agreements – including pledges to boost defense cooperation and explore joint energy projects in the Arctic – during talks that Putin said focused on “international issues”.

“Our approaches to key global and regional issues are either similar or very close,” he said.

The strong ties between India and Russia date back to the 1950s after the death of Stalin. But trade between the two countries was just 10 billion dollars last year, which Putin, who is on his first visit to India since Modi was elected, said was “not enough”.

“He (Putin) wants to show the world that he isn’t isolated and to a certain extent he’s not – he still has the BRICS countries”, an Indian expert on Russia said, referring to the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. “India now is all about development and it’s looking to Russia to share its technology on military hardware for making here,” said the expert, which is a senior fellow with Delhi-based think-tank, the Observer Research Foundation.

”Foremost, a defense partner”

Moscow is seeking greater investment from Indian state-run companies in Russian oil and gas projects. Russia, which has the world’s second-biggest natural gas reserves, cancelled South Stream pipeline meant to pump gas to Europe without going through Ukraine.

But Putin has poured cold water on a proposed pipeline pumping gas to India, saying it might not be cost effective, instead emphasizing current arrangements to ship liquefied natural gas in tankers.

During Putin’s visit, Russia agreed to produce helicopters in India, which is seeking to boost its manufacturing industry, and agreed to advance a long-delayed project to develop a joint fighter jet.

Modi said Russia would remain India’s “most important partner” in defense after the United States recently overtook it as the biggest seller of arms to India.

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