الإثنين , مايو 17 2021

Putin in energy-focused India visit

File photo of Putin and ModiVladimir Putin is seen here meeting India’s Narendra Modi at the 6th BRICS Summit in Brazil in July

Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun a visit to India, where he is due to seek lucrative energy deals.

He said earlier that Russia was looking to export more Russian oil and gas to Asia because European consumption was not rising quickly enough.

Last week Russia scrapped a massive gas pipeline project with EU states.

Mr Putin is due to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meet business leaders and attend a diamond conference during a day-long visit.

Russia and India were close allies during the Cold War but in recent years the relationship has been more tense.

India is reported to be upset with Russia for selling attack helicopters to Pakistan.

On the other hand, Russia has been unhappy with India for choosing French Rafale fighters and American Apache attack helicopters over Moscow’s defence products.

In this photograph taken on December 5, 2014, an Indian supervisor looks at the finished diamonds on a production line at a processing centre in Surat, some 265km south of Ahmedabad. India wants to persuade Russia to export more rough diamonds

Speaking before his visit, Mr Putin said Russia expected to secure the “role of a reliable energy supplier to the Asian markets”.

Reuters news agency reports that a $1bn (£630m; €800m) joint venture to supply hydro-electric power is among the deals the two leaders are due to sign.

‘The next level’

The Kremlin website posted photos of Mr Putin being greeted at an unnamed airport in India.

Mr Modi welcomed his arrival with a series of tweets in Russian which were then translated into English.

“Times have changed, our friendship has not,” he wrote. “Now, we want to take this relation to the next level this visit is a step in that direction.”

Mr Putin told PTI news agency earlier: “European consumption is increasing too slowly, while political, regulatory and transit risks are on the rise.

“At the same time, the economies of Asian countries are growing rapidly. Thus, we are naturally interested in diversifying the destinations of our energy deliveries.”

‘Slow Europe’

Last year, Russian state-owned firm Gazprom began building the 930km (580-mile) South Stream project to pipe gas to Europe.

But the $50bn venture was suspended in June this year when the European Commission said it might be breaking EU competition rules.

Mr Putin cancelled the project last week.

The crisis in Ukraine has led to a bitter fall-out between the West and Russia, which has been placed under wide-ranging sanctions by the US, EU and several other countries.

India and Russia are also expected to sign an agreement on improving diamond business between the two countries.

Russia is the top producer of rough diamonds in the world and India is the global hub for cutting and polishing the gemstones.

But Russian mines sell most of the rough produce to the diamond hubs of Antwerp and Dubai from where it comes to India, something that Delhi wants to change.

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