India and Russia have concurred to expand their space cooperation, which includes satellite navigation and human spaceflight initiatives. The two nations also agreed to pursue “mutually beneficial” cooperation in the creation of launch vehicles as well as the peaceful use of space, such as planetary exploration.

These were among a slew of military, trade, and technology deals reached during Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, and Vladimir Putin, Russian President summit in New Delhi on December 6. “The world has seen many fundamental changes in the last few decades, and various types of geopolitical equations have emerged, but India and Russia’s friendship has remained constant,” Modi said before his discussion with Putin.

India and Russia “welcomed the strengthened cooperation between the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) and State Space Corporation ‘Roscosmos’, especially in human spaceflight projects and satellite navigation, and agreed to investigate the potential of developing mutually advantageous cooperation in the production of launch vehicles and utilization of the outer space for peaceful uses, including planetary exploration,” according to a joint statement released after the summit.

Modi and Putin met in New Delhi just hours after the two countries’ defense and foreign ministers held a tactical dialogue to discuss strengthening ties between the two countries. India and Russia also inked a number of bilateral defense deals, including India’s purchase of over 600,000 Russian assault guns. It is a “landmark” deal, according to India’s defense ministry, because it will substitute a locally produced rifle with an advanced weapon, ending a “long quest” for the army’s needs.

The two countries also expressed delight with the preparation of four Indian astronaut hopefuls at the Yu.A. Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Center. The training started in February 2020 as part of Gaganyaan program, India’s first human-crewed space flight venture, and ended in March 2021, according to a June 2019 deal between ISRO and Roscosmos’ subsidiary Glavcosmos. In 2023, India will choose three of the four astronauts who will spend seven days in space aboard Gaganyaan, which is a crew capsule that is going to be launched on India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

“To facilitate further space cooperation,” India and Russia signed a technology protection agreement based on their cooperation in the fields of research and peaceful use of outer space, as well as the development and operation of the launch vehicles and ground-centered space infrastructure. The two nations also agreed to enhance cooperation within the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), particularly on issues related to the long-term viability of space activities.

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