India's Modi: 'Russia Is India's Closest Friend'

India russia putin modi sneakySaurabh Das/APPutin is looking east for friends.

Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t exactly the West’s favourite person right now, but it looks like he’s finally found a friend.

“Russia is India’s closest friend, and the preferred strategic partner,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday during a meeting with Putin, according to Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency.

The two leaders met in New Dehli on Thursday to improve the defence, energy, and trade alliance between their nations. 

They signed numerous documents during the day, including an “agreement for training of Indian Armed Forces in the military educational establishements of the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation,” and a “strategic vision for strengthening cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy.”

This isn’t the first time Russia and India have collaborated on military and defence matters. India is one of the biggest importers of Russian arms, buying over $US13 billion worth in 2013.

Additionally, Modi and Putin discussed trade relations and the construction of “high technologies such as the aircraft Sukhoi SuperJet-100 and GLONASS,” according to Vesti News.

After the meeting, Putin added that Russia and India should work together to resolve the situation in Syria and Iraq, work on stabilizing Afghanistan, and create a “new architecture of security and cooperation” in Asia.

This meeting is part of Russia’s larger strategic plan called “turning to the East,” according to Vesti. Russia has been looking for new trading partners following the imposition of sanctions by the US and the EU.

Previously, Putin met with China’s Xi Jinping several times, and the two nations signed a 30-year contract for a 
gas pipeline in May. Plus, China and Russia have started to work towards building a stronger military alliance.

Additionally, Putin announced that he’s interested in having closer ties with North Korea.

And since India’s on fire right now, it’s another great non-US, non-EU ally for Russia to have.

Modi was elected prime minister on a probusiness platform in May 2014. Following his election, India’s stock seriously rallied because of investor optimism. Now, the dropping oil prices are great news for India.

It will be interesting to watch how Russia’s “turning to the East” plan ends up playing out — and whether or not it could help the crashing, isolated Russian economy.

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