Moscow: In a clear attempt to allay Russia's apprehensions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it will remain an "indispensable" partner for India's defence needs even as he underlined that the bilateral ties should adapt to changing times to address challenges.
Singh hailed the India-Russia relations, saying it is marked by "abiding comfort with each other" and the warmth and goodwill between the people ensure that the strategic partnership will continue to grow in strength and relevance in the changing world.
He highlighted various elements of partnership covering the fields of nuclear energy, defence, hydrocarbons and trade besides cooperation in international matters to portray the promising future for the relationship.
"Even this brief overview of the fruits of our cooperation should be enough to justify fully the description of our relationship as a special and privileged strategic partnership," Singh said in his address at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Noting that observers may well ask how this relationship could be taken to greater heights," he said, "I am convinced that while the strength and the intensity of our relationship will remain undiminished, it must also adapt itself to the changing times so that we can address the full range of current opportunities and challenges. I am also sure that, as in the past, we shall face these challenges together."
At the bilateral level, the Prime Minister said, "while Russia will remain an indispensable partner for our defence needs, our future defence partnership must be increasingly based on technology transfer, joint ventures and co-development and co-production."
The statement assumes significance as India has lately been looking at new vendors like the US and Israel for its military hardware, creating apprehensions in Russia which has been long-standing major supplier of the defence equipment.
"We also see Russia as a key partner for our energy security. We have an ambitious long-term plan of cooperation in nuclear energy. The programme of cooperation in hydrocarbons that we are drawing up will further intensify our partnership in oil and gas and renewable energy sources," he said.