For weeks the postponement of President Putin‘s trip to Pakistan has intrigued analysts. Some had suggested a total breakdown of Russian-Pakistan relations and an about-turn in thinking in Moscow. However events that happened after the announcement of cancellation clearly displayed the fact that Moscow was still interested in Pakistan. The schedule of the Russian Foreign Minister was cleared, and he was immediately dispatched to Islamabad. He then signed the MOUs on the Steel Mill, pipeline, and roads and rails. Additionally, General Kayani went to Moscow about arms purchases. To appease Delhi, Russia does not directly sell arms to Pakistan, but exports Jet Engines, Tank engines and other equipment to Pakistan via Ukraine, China and now through Serbia.
The Russians also invited President Zardari and Foreign Minister Khar to Russia and met them on the sidelines of other events. Russia still supports Pakistan’s membership in the SCO and has not backed off from the Russian sponsored Dushambe 4 club comprising of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Russia.
So Ambassador Bhadrakumar’s commentary that Russia has lost interest in Pakistan has failed to stand the test of a even a few weeks. He was to early to pull the gun and declare the relationship dead.
The real explanation for the cancellation of President Putin’s trip to Islamabad was Bharat. President Putin wanted to cancel his trip to Bharat because of a plethora of reasons. Moscow did not want to tell the world that he was not going to visit Delhi, but still visit Islamabad–that would have made headlines around the world. Putin wanted to cancel the visit to Delhi. He was was thus forced to cancel his trip to Islamabad.
Russia and Delhi are having hu
ge problems, since Delhi tried to put all its eggs in the American basket. In the post-Bhopal era, the Lok and Rajya Sabha have created tough liability laws to force foreign corporations to pay up if tragedy strikes. These Liability Laws are preventing US, Japanese and Russian companies to agree to to business in Bharat.
Indo-Russian relations facing the following issues:
1) Differences over Sistema’s telecom investments
2) The delays in the commissioning of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov
3)The applicability of the nuclear liability legislation to units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.
4) Reeling from lessons learned from the Enron disaster, West Bengal government decided to cancel the allotment of a site in Haripur– the second nuclear park allotted to Russia, after Kudankulam.
Asked whether the Union government had abandoned the Haripur project, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said: “I don’t know whether ‘abandon’ is the right word. We have been in consultation with our Russian friends… and there are some technical issues that have come to the fore, and we are working with them on finding another site.”
According to the Hindu “In the run-up to the “special exemption” India received from the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s export rules in September 2008, New Delhi agreed on a “road map” for 18 Russian reactors at three sites. The Russians understood this to mean that they would be awarded orders for 18 reactors, which they said would cost less. But Indian officials later let it be known that New Delhi would not be able to make firm financial commitments for all the plants at one go.
Thereafter, the Russians were hoping that once all reactors at Kudankulam were built, they would move on to Haripur. But the West Bengal government’s decision means that the hunt for a new site will begin afresh, at a time when anti-nuclear activists are protesting against nuclear power.”
Right now, the US 123 Nuclear deal and the Russian nuclear deals at Haripur and Kudankulam are in cold storage. Bharat is unable to make financial commitments to Russia, and the US is not really interested in selling nuclear plants to Bharat–despite earlier oral and written commitments from Washington
Keywords: India-Russia ties, nuclear power, Haripur nuclear electricity park