New Delhi, Apr 12 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday joined the illustrious club of noted Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Chinese President Xi Jinping and others when the Russian Federation conferred the prestigious Russian highest civilian award 'Order of Saint Andrew The Apostle' to him.
A decree from the Putin's office in Moscow said the prestigious award has been given to Mr Modi for "distinguished achievement in development of the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between Russian Federation and the Republic of India".
In a statement here, Ministry of External Affairs welcomed the decision of the Russian Federation.
"The award signifies the special and enduring strategic partnership between India and Russia marked by exceptional warmth and friendship extending to our peoples," the statement said.
The award which is given for exceptional services has, since its inception in 1998, been conferred on 18 distinguished personalities.
India greatly appreciates this honour bestowed upon the Prime Minister by the President of the Russian Federation, it said.
In his reactions, Prime Minister Modi thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for conferring the prestigious Russian highest civilian award to him and said Mr Putin remains "a source of great strength for the India-Russia friendship".
"President Putin remains a source of great strength for the India-Russia friendship. Under his visionary leadership, bilateral and multilateral cooperation between our nations has scaled new heights," Mr Modi wrote in a series of tweets.
He further wrote: “Honoured to receive this prestigious award. I thank President Putin and the people of Russia. Foundations of India-Russia friendship are deep & the future of our partnership is bright. Extensive cooperation between our nations has led to extraordinary outcomes for our citizens.”
Welcoming the Russian decision, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also took to the micro blogging site and wrote: "This award is a recognition of true India-Russia’s 'Druzhba Dosti'. On behalf of all Indians, I profusely thank President Putin".
This award is a "big honour for India", Ms Swaraj said.
MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar tweeted: "Scaling new heights of India-Russia friendship".
The winners of the prestigious awards include gun designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation Sergei Shoigu, Soviet Russian scholar Dmitry Likhachov and poet Rasul Gamzatov.
This is the third such high ranking international award conferred to Prime Minister after South Korea and earlier this month the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced awarding its highest civilian award 'Order of Zayed' on the Prime Minister.
In October last year, Mr Modi was honoured with Seoul Peace Prize by South Korea.