January 2, 2015

Russia looks to boost defence ties with India

(tribuneindia):Days before US President Barrack Obama arrives in India to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day function, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will arrive in New Delhi on January 21 to meet his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar. The two ministers will conduct the 15th meeting of the Russian-Indian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation. The two sides are expected to discuss the offer made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi during his last month visit on producing the ‘Kamov’ military helicopters in India. Also India is possibly looking for additional Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets, as a fall-back option in case the deal to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets from France does not materialise. The deal has been stuck for three years now. The two sides are not expected to move forward on having a $11 billion research and development contract for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). During a Russian team’s visit to India three days ago, New Delhi conveyed that the basic prototype of the plane was already flying and the Indian version had just a few variations, hence a full-fledged R&D contract was a waste of time and resources. The Defence Ministers’ meeting was scheduled in October but could not be held due to occupation of the Russian Minister in matters related to Ukraine. In November, Sergei Shoigu became the first-ever Russian Defence Minister to visit Pakistan. The two sides even signed a ‘Defence and Military Cooperation Agreement’ on November 20 at Rawalpindi. Official spokesperson in the Indian External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin had then said: “The first-ever visit by the Russian Defence Minister to Pakistan is obviously significant... India has noted that Russia, like other countries, has chosen to progress defence cooperation with our neighbour.” Earlier this year, Moscow sold the Mi-35 attack helicopter to Pakistan. India uses an older version of the same helicopter. Russia has clearly leaned towards India after Putin’s visit to New Delhi in December. Moscow has led India to jointly explore gas and oil in the Arctic shelf and will set up 10 additional nuclear power units in India. It has also promised investments infrastructure besides trade in diamonds. In all 20 agreements were inked during the visit. Russia diplomatic support to India in the context of Kashmir at the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) has been healthy, especially when the traditionally strong US-Pakistan relationship exists. The US in its latest defence budget okayed a $1 billion grant to Pakistan.
 On agenda
  • Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will meet his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar during the 15th meeting of the Russian-Indian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation
  • They are likely to discuss production of ‘Kamov’ military helicopters in India and purchase of additional Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets by New Delhi

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