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Putin Headed to India for Trade, Energy Talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin opens a meeting of the Russian Geographical Society in Moscow, Dec. 9, 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is headed to India on a trip aimed at expanding trade and energy cooperation.

Putin is expected to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday in New Delhi.

India and Russia have had close ties since the Cold War. Analysts say India will look for ways in which Russia can help the emerging South Asian economy meet its growing energy demands, possibly with an agreement for a gas and oil pipeline between them.

Ahead of the trip, Putin spoke of a "privileged strategic partnership" between Russia and India during an interview with the Press Trust of India news agency. He also said the economies of Asian countries are growing rapidly and that Russia is interested in diversifying the destinations of its energy deliveries.

The Reuters news agency cited analysts who have questioned the viability of proposed oil and gas pipeline routes that would either cross conflict-ridden Afghanistan and Pakistan — India's arch enemy — or mountainous tracts of inner China.

Russia's economy was struggling even before the West imposed sanctions on Moscow for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and involvement in the crisis in Ukraine. The value of Russia's ruble has been at record lows as the sanctions and falling oil prices take even more of a toll on the economy.

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