Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a two-day visit to Russia tomorrow for annual summit talks with President Vladimir Putin that is aimed at further expanding the special and privileged strategic ties with a particular focus on nuclear energy, hydrocarbons, defence and trade.
After the talks on Thursday, the two "time-tested" partners are likely to ink a number of pacts in a range of sectors including nuclear energy and defence. The talks between the two countries at the highest level have been taking place alternately in Moscow and New Delhi since 2000.
"We expect to sign a number of agreements covering a very broad range of fields. Final touches are being given on some of them," Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told reporters.
He said expanding economic ties would be a "very big priority" as the two countries were aiming at enhancing annual bilateral trade to $30 billion over the next 10 years from current $10 billion.
Besides bilateral issues, Modi and Putin are likely to deliberate on a number of global issues having political dimensions including the situation in Syria and ways to tackle terrorism.
"This would be definitely one of the most important engagements for us," Jaishankar said.
The Foreign Secretary said India was looking at deeper engagement in Russia's oil and coal sector besides stepping up cooperation in some other areas like diamond trade and agro-business.
Energy-starved India, the third largest oil importer after the US and China, has been pushing for greater involvement in major gas and oil exploration projects in Russia. Russia is one of the top oil producers globally and has huge reserves of natural gas.
India is also likely to push for a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Zone and is sharing details of study it conducted in this regard.
Without giving specific details, Jaishankar said both Modi and Putin will deliberate on enhancing cooperation in defence and nuclear energy speheres.
"Russia has been a very major military and strategic partner of India. There will be a lot of discussions on that," he said.
Last week, Defence Ministry's top acquisition council had cleared the purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems at an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore.
Asked whether Russia will strongly back India's bid for a seat at the UN Security Council, he said "Two countries have great confidence and trust in each other. We do not at all doubt Russia's commitment to see India as a permanent member of the UNSC."
On whether India will request Russia to share details on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, he said the issue had figured during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's recent visit to Moscow. "Let's wait and see what happens.I do not prejudge the Russian response till we get it," he said.