Moscow considers the state visit by Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Russia as an event called upon to strengthen a qualitatively new level of strategic partnership reached between Russia and India, Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov told the Indian newspaper Hindu. According to him, the events that have taken place over twelve months after the visit by the Russian President to India confirm the substantiated nature of our joint assessments of the situation in the world. "Our course towards the accelerated development of Russian-Indian interaction in the interests of the peoples of our countries and the formation of a more fair and balanced multi-polar world order in the 21st century fully justifies itself," the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Igor Ivanov also stressed that Moscow highly values the close and trustworthy political dialogue that has been established with India, including the dialogue between the Security Councils, the foreign and defence ministries of both countries. He noted that "a nation-wide consensus about the priority nature of the comprehensive build-up of the Russian-Indian ties in all the directions has taken root both in Russia and India." Pointing out that the development of trade and economic cooperation was a priority task of bilateral relations between Russia and India, Igor Ivanov noted that "so far, ties in this field are below the high level typical, on the whole, of our strategic cooperation." According to him, trade is largely maintained by the efforts to repay the Indian state debt. "This situation does not meet modern possibilities and requirements of both countries." He stressed that to increase the volume of trade and raise the share of science-intense products in it, it is nec! ! essary to take a number of certain measures, first of all, to establish the accepted international practice of payments and credits. Moscow, the Russian foreign minister said, hopes that "the Indian side will recognize the guarantees of large Russian banks and, in the final account, we shall be able to create an effective mechanism of trade dispute settlement." Igor Ivanov also believes that good prospects in the field of economic relations are linked with the study of new large projects and investments in the energy sector: the construction of new hydro- and thermo-power stations, oil and gas production in Russia, India and third countries. Apart from that, he said, it is quite real to expect a breakthrough in cooperation in high-tech areas - information and bio-technologies, telecommunications, new materials and medicines. According to Ivanov, "quite real is the prospect of cooperation in developing, producing and modernising aircraft and helicopters of various modifications" taking into account the need to renew the aircraft pools of Russia and India.
Maria Zakharova, an official representative for the Russian Foreign Ministry, commented on the attack that the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) conducted on the Russian city of Belgorod