Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said India was Russia’s especially privileged strategic partner. Speaking to Sputnik news agency and radio, and IANS News Agency, Putin said cooperation between the two nations was making good progress in all areas on the basis of strong traditions of friendship, trust and mutual respect. India will host the two-day BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Goa starting Saturday.

According to Putin, India is one of Russia’s major trade partners, even though trade between the countries dropped by 7.8% in 2015. Among other things, Putin mentioned the Kudankulam nuclear plant that India built with Russia. “Moscow is also assessing the construction of nuclear power plants at other sites in India. Technological cooperation in the field of uranium enrichment is being established.” Putin said.

He also pointed out that major Russian companies are operating in the Indian market. Putin said, “Let me add that many of the Russian projects in India not only have commercial importance but also play a significant social and economic role for the economies of the two countries. They harmoniously fit in the new Indian industrialisation programme proposed by Mr [Narendra] Modi.”

Putin said the focus of the upcoming summit will be to improve bilateral trade and economic ties. “Russia's cumulative investments in India amount to about $4 billion, while Indian businesses have invested in the Russian economy twice as much - about $8 billion,” he said.

He said Delhi and Moscow have selected 20 priority projects – 10 Russian projects and 10 Indian ones – in spheres such as transport engineering, chemical industry, aircraft industry and pharmaceuticals. He said Russia was committed to the fundamental principles of international law and promote the central role of the United Nations.

Putin said, “Our countries reject the policy of coercive pressure and infringement upon the sovereignty of other states. We take similar stances on urgent international issues, including the Syrian crisis and the Middle East settlement.”

At the summit, the major topics of discussion will include terrorism, drug trafficking and corruption. The two countries are likely to sign several deals during the summit, including the procurement from Russia of four stealth frigates and five units of the S-400 anti-aircraft system, and the announcement of a joint venture for the manufacture of 200 Kamov-226T helicopters in India, The Indian Express reported. The deals will be worth billions of dollar but the governments have not revealed the exact amount.

Relations between India and Russia, it long-time ally, had taken a downturn over the past few weeks after the Kremlin conducted military drills in Pakistan. Russia's increasing closeness to Pakistan had drawn India's ire, even as New Delhi's strengthening relations to the United States was seen as a snub to its Cold War rival.