Russia talks up business with India as Modi visits Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia and India agreed to increase cooperation in sectors ranging from nuclear power to shipbuilding and discussed how to fix payments problems as their leaders met in Moscow on Tuesday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a two-day visit to Moscow and met Russian President Vladimir Putin at an event that also saw state-owned Russian enterprises announce deals and tout plans for projects involving India.

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said it was discussing building six more nuclear power units in India; the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) inked pharma, shipbuilding and education agreements; and Russia’s second-largest bank spoke of efforts to ease payment flows as trade between the two nations increases.

Under a barrage of Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has pivoted away from European countries to what it calls “friendly” nations such as India and China to diversify and reorient trade flows.

Putin, joining Russian businesses in the charm offensive, bestowed on Modi the Order of St Andrew, Russia’s highest honour.

Construction of the first two units of India’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, which uses Soviet-designed VVER-1000 reactors, began nearly two decades ago in the southern state of Tamil Nadu as part of a project signed by both countries.

Rosatom said new areas of cooperation were being discussed – the construction of six more high-power units of Russian design at a new site and some Russian-designed small nuclear power plants.

Rosatom and Indian partners were also discussing developing the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), which runs from Murmansk near Russia’s border with Norway eastwards to the Bering Strait near Alaska, particularly concerning supplies of Russian oil, coal and liquefied natural gas, Rosatom said.

Russia hopes the NSR will transport 150 million metric tons in 2030, up from 80 million tons this year.


The RDIF and India’s Enso Group agreed on a partnership for joint investments worth up to 20 billion roubles ($227 million) in infrastructure development for shipbuilding, Russian agencies reported.

Many Russian companies see huge potential in India, RDIF chief Kirill Dmitriev told reporters on the sidelines of the Putin-Modi meeting. Other deals in education and pharma were agreed, he said.

A major stumbling block to trade has been payment flows. VTB Bank CEO Andrei Kostin said there was constructive dialogue on the issue but acknowledged lingering problems.

“There are, of course, problems linked to sanctions, there are problems related to the incomplete convertibility of the rupee, there are problems related to … a wide range of trade and economic relations, there is unbalanced trade,” Kostin told reporters.

($1 = 88.2455 roubles)

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Dmitry Antonov, Anastasia Lyrchikova in Moscow and Alexander Marrow in London; additional reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Editing by Mark Potter)

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