PM Modi to commence a visit to Russian Federation on May 21

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According to the announcement by the external affairs ministry (MEA), Modi will visit Russian Federation on May 21 at the invitation of Putin for an "informal summit".

In a surprise announcement, MEA said this afternoon it would be "an important occasion for the two leaders to exchange views on worldwide matters in a broad and long-term perspective".

It said both the leaders will also discuss their respective national developmental priorities and bilateral matters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will become the first head of state to travel to Russian Federation since President Vladimir Putin took the oath of office for a fourth term last week. It would be Modi's second informal summit in as many months as he held talks with Chinese President Xi Jingpin in China's Wuhan in a similar format last month.

Putin is also expected to visit India later this year for the annual bilateral summit.

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However, unlike the informal summit with Xi, the announcement of PM's visit to Sochi was a surprise as India and Russian Federation are slated to hold their annual summit in India in October. The last summit had taken place in St Petersburg in June 2017. Observers have termed the move significant to boost investments in India.

As observed during the Indo-Chinese informal summit in Wuhan, there will be no deliverables or agreements announced after the Sochi summit.

Raghavan felt that the ongoing developments around the world required both countries to "affirm a mutual commitment" beyond the confines of a formal summit. The two leaders might also discuss how their two countries could counter the challenge posed to their defence cooperation by impending USA sanctions against several Russian entities involved in military supplies to India under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

This message had to be conveyed against a backdrop of deteriorating US-Russia relations which has ignited a budding Russia-China alliance. I'm speaking of the Russia-India-China (RIC) format, BRICS, and now the SCO, of which India became a fullfledged member a year ago.

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