New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday suggested an expansion of the partnership between India and Japan in third countries including Russian Far East. This is first formal expression of interest by India to work with Japan in resource rich Russian Far East.
Speaking at a FICCI virtual event, he said, “one is possibility of economic cooperation in Russian far east, because India has shown much greater willingness to be involved in economic projects there and the other is pacific island countries, we have development partnership and political footprints..has grown significantly.”
India-Russia-Japan are planning to launch trilateral format and it could be launched through Track 2 dialogue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Vladivostok last year for annual India-Russia bilateral Summit and announcing a Line of Credit of $ 1 billion for development projects in the Russian Far East region and announced Indias Act Far East policy.
The Line of Credit (LOC) will facilitate undertaking infrastructure and other development projects in various sectors from energy to agriculture to natural resources. India is exploring partnership with provinces of Russian Far East which are rich in resources but sparsely populated. While it is not pronounced increased presence of India and Japan in Russian Far East is aimed balancing Chinese encroachment into that region. Last year Russia made it compulsory to employ significant number of locals in most projects in Russian Far East amid growing Chinese population in the area.
India is also planning to revive Chennai-Vladivostok maritime shipping link that would be stepping stone towards India-Russian partnership in the Indo-Pacific region.
This shipping link that existed during the Soviet Union period would enable to transfer cargo between Chennai and Vladivostok in 24 days compared to over 40 days currently taken to transport goods from India to Far East Russia via Europe. This shipping link will also help India to expand its footprints in Far East Russia based on Act Far East policy.
Far East Russia has a wealth of natural resources such as land, timber, mineral and other resources like tin, gold, diamonds and oil and natural gas. The Russian government has announced several initiatives to attract investments in the region, including an agricultural SEZ, the Vladivostok Free Port Project and also invites participation in the timber industry, mining of the huge mineral resources (coal diamonds) and precious metal deposits (gold, platinum, tin and tungsten).