India maintained friendly and cordial relations with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Central Asian and Caucasian countries during the year through visits, conclusion of bilateral agreements, periodic bilateral and multilateral engagements, cooperation programmes, cultural events and other initiatives. Some of the important bilateral engagements during the year included the State visits of the President of the Russian Federation Mr. Dmitry A. Medvedev to India in December 2008, the President of Kazakhstan Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev as Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations 2009 and visit of the Vice President of India to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in April 2008.
India and Russia continue to further consolidate their strategic partnership. Co-operation in defence, space and nuclear energy has intensified. During President Medvedev’s visit to India from 4-5 December 2008 for the annual bilateral Summit, nine important agreements were signed apart from a Joint Declaration. The agreements include an Inter-Governmental Agreement on Cooperation for the construction of additional nuclear power plant units at Kudankulam site as well as for the construction of Russian designed nuclear power plants at new sites, and a MoU between ISRO and Russian Federal Space Agency on joint activities in the field of human space flight programme. From the Russian side, Defence Minister Mr. Anatoly Serdyukov visited India from 28-30 September 2008, Foreign Minister Mr. Sergey Lavrov visited on 20 October, and Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Mr. Alexander Zhukov, visited on 20 October, and Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Mr. Alexander Zhukov, visited India to co-chair the 14th Session of the India-Russia IGC on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation. The year 2008 was celebrated as “Year of Russia” in India with almost 140 events being organised in different cities of India, and similarly, the year 2009 is being celebrated as the “Year of India” in Russia.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, Mr. Rashid Meredov led a high level delegation to India from 20 – 22 January 2008. Mr. Meredov co-chaired the 2nd Session of the India-Turkmenistan Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Co-operation along with the MoS for External Affairs, Shri E. Ahmed. During the visit Mr. Meredov called on the Vice President and the PM and also met the EAM Shri Pranab Mukherjee. Vice-President Shri M. Hamid Ansari paid an official visit to Turkmenistan from 4-6 April 2008. Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Murli Deora visited Turkmenistan in November 2008. Defence Minister of Belarus Colonel General Leonid Maltsev visited India from 16 – 18 February for DEFEXPO India 2008 in New Delhi. He met the Defence Minister on 16 February to discuss bilateral defence co-operation. Indian army chief General Deepak Kapoor visited Belarus from 12-15 March 2008 and met the Belarusian Defence Minister, Chairman of the State Military & Industrial Committee and Chief of the Army Staff. General Kapoor visited the Military Academy of Belarus and several defence production enterprises. The Belarusian Minister of Industry Mr. Anatoly Rusetsky attended the 4th Session of the India-Belarus IGC on Economic, Trade, Industrial, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation in New Delhi from 17 – 18 November 2008. The first session of the Indo-Belarusian Joint Commission on Military Technical Cooperation was held in Minsk from 27 – 30 May 2008. Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic. Mr. Ednan Karabaev visited India from 4-6 February 2008 to review bilateral relations and discuss regional issues of mutual interest. He met the Ministers of External Affairs, Commerce & Industry, Human Resource Development and Culture & Tourism.
During 2008, Vice President (VP) Shri M. Hamid Ansari’s visit to Kazakhstan from 6-10 April 2008 gave a major boost to India-Kazakhstan relations. During his visit, VP met with the President and Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and addressed the Senate. Kazakhstan President Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev paid a state visit to India from 23-26 January 2009 and was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations – the first time that a leader from a Central Asian country was accorded this honour. With another important Central Asian Country, Uzbekistan, our relations progressed with holding of Foreign Office consultations in New Delhi on 1st August 2008, and meeting of the 8th Session of the India-Uzbekistan Inter-Government Commission on trade, economic, scientific, and cultural cooperation in September 2008. The Uzbek Minister of Economy Mr. B. Khodjaev had visited New Delhi from 16-17 September 2008 for the 8th Session of the IGC.