24 August 2019
Narendra Modi (inset) doesn't want Xi Jinping (right) to be Vladimir Putin's only 'friend'. Photos: Reuters
Narendra Modi (inset) doesn't want Xi Jinping (right) to be Vladimir Putin's only 'friend'. Photos: Reuters

Like China, India wants to be Russia’s energy friend

Russian President Vladimir Putin will try to bolster energy ties with India on a visit next month, Bloomberg News reported Friday.

Putin is seeking to expand trade links with Asian countries to counter sanctions from the United States and its allies over its actions in Ukraine.

Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest energy explorer, is likely to sign initial agreements during the trip with Moscow-based OAO Rosneft to study two Russian oil and gas fields, chairman Dinesh Kumar Sarraf told Bloomberg.

Putin is due to arrive in New Delhi on Dec. 11 for meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Russia may be looking for new investments in their energy sector, especially now, and we’re keen to invest,” Sarraf said, declining to disclose details.

“We’ve always maintained that we respect UN sanctions and not really those imposed by individual countries. If we see good opportunities in Russia, we’ll go.”

Closer ties may benefit both countries’ leaders as they seek to boost economic growth and fend off geostrategic threats.

While Putin pushes to build ties with Asia to avert a recession, Modi is looking to fulfill a campaign promise of economic development and prevent Russia from leaning too much on China.

“Modi really needs to keep engaged with Russia, because an isolated Russia can move closer to China,” said W.P.S. Sidhu, a senior foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution in India.

Russia holds the world’s second-biggest natural gas reserves and is among the globe’s biggest oil producers.

The country’s deteriorating relations with the US and Europe amid the Ukraine conflict is forcing it to turn to China, the world’s largest energy consumer.

Gas exporter OAO Gazprom reached a US$400 billion deal with China in May to build a pipeline and start supplies after more than a decade of talks.

In September, Putin offered to sell a stake in Vankor, the country’s second-biggest oil project, to “Chinese friends”.

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