On Board Special Aircraft: Notwithstanding Russia’s plans to supply arms to Pakistan, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said Russia is India’s “dependable partner” in defence and energy sectors irrespective of Moscow’s growing ties with any other nation.

“Our relationship stands apart. Russia is and will be a dependable partner in defence matter and energy security despite the relationships with other countries developed by Russia or developed by India,” President Pranab Mukherjee told reporters.

The President, who was returning home after a five-day visit to Russia, was replying a question about whether he raised the issue of Russia’s move to supply defence equipment to Pakistan during his bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has lifted its embargo on defence supplies to Pakistan and the two sides are working on ways to boost their defence ties. In 2014, the two countries signed a military cooperation agreement to deepen their ties.

In a sign of increasing bonhomie between the Cold War-era adversaries, Pakistan and Russia have also agreed to hold their first-ever joint military exercises.

Mukherjee said irrespective of Russia’s ties with other countries, its ties with India would continue to be strong.

“…India-Russia relationship is one of deep friendship and mutual confidence that would not be affected by transient political trends.

“Russia has been a pillar of strength at difficult moments in India’s history. India will always reciprocate this support. Russia is and will remain our most important defence partner and a key partner for our energy security, both on nuclear energy and hydrocarbons,” he said in a statement.

Mukherjee said his visit also reflected the importance India places on its strategic partnership with Russia and India-Russia relations have stood the test of time.

The President said he had held a substantive bilateral meeting with the Russian President and reviewed progress on bilateral issues as well as steps to further enhance and deepen the relationship.

“We also discussed the rapidly evolving global political, security and economic scenario. President Putin reiterated his strong commitment to further enhance ties with India, which are marked by an exceptional level of mutual trust,” he said.

Referring to the annual summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Putin, held in Delhi in December, Mukherjee said there was forward movement on defence, nuclear energy and space cooperation.

“We have made tangible progress in our economic and commercial cooperation in sectors ranging from hydrocarbons, fertilisers, diamonds and agricultural products,” he said.