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India, Russia ink 10-year defense cooperation pact as Putin visits New Delhi

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India and Russia on Monday inked a new 10-year pact on military-technical cooperation as Russian President Vladimir Putin visited New Delhi for the 21st annual Indo-Russia summit.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said 28 agreements were concluded between India and Russia after the meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Another clear takeaway was the $687 million contract for the procurement of 600,000 AK-203 Kalashnikov assault rifles through the joint venture called Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited.

Among the other deals in the pipeline was the $1.5 billion one for the IGLA-S very-short-range air defense missile systems (VSHORADS). The deal will involve an initial off-the-shelf purchase of the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile systems followed by technology transfer to Bharat Dynamics for subsequent production.

According to the Times of India, New Delhi also plans to ink next year a deal for 21 MiG-29s, along with the upgrade of 59 such fighters already with the Indian Air Force, as well as 12 additional Sukhoi-30MKIs, with advanced electronic warfare capabilities, additional supplies and spares.

Though India still remains the biggest arms importer from Russia, it has increasingly turned to countries like the US, France and Israel to meet its military requirements.

India's military uses Russian weaponry extensively, such as Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft, T-90S tanks and BMP infantry combat vehicles, Talwar-class frigates, and Kilo-class submarines. The two sides have jointly produced the BrahMos cruise missile system.

In October 2018, the two countries concluded a deal on India's procurement of five units of the S-400 air-defense systems for an estimated $5.5 billion. They also signed agreements to construct Talwar-class frigates, and to a joint venture (JV) to manufacture Kamov-226T helicopters in India.

The S400 is regarded as the world's premier long-range missile system, with the ability to shoot down enemy aircraft at ranges up to 400 kilometres. During the confrontation over the last two years between the Chinese and Indian armies in Ladakh, China deployed the S400 along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), according to Business Standard.

Modi-Putin talks

In a conversation with Prime Minister Modi, Putin was quoted as saying that he looks forward to developing relations with India. "We perceive India as a great power, a friendly nation, and a time-tested friend. The relations between our nations are growing and I am looking into the future," he said.

PM Modi, on the other hand, showed firm belief into the bilateral relations between the two countries. "The relation between India and Russia is truly a unique and reliable model of interstate friendship," he said.

A joint communique' issued after the talks pointed out that the completion of 5 decades of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation and 2 decades of Declaration on Strategic Partnership is symbolic of the long-standing and time-tested India-Russia relations characterized by mutual trust, respect for each other's core national interests and similarity of positions on various international and regional issues.

Both sides agreed to continue promoting mutual settlements in national currencies, which will help reduce cost and time as well as risks involved in payments. They expressed interest in continuing dialogue on accepting Indian RuPay and Russian MIR Cards within national-payment infrastructures, as well as on interaction of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and the Faster Payments System of the Bank of Russia (FPS). The UPI is an instant real-time payment system developed by National Payments Corporation of India facilitating inter-bank peer-to-peer and person-to-merchant transactions. The Russian Side invited Indian credit institutions to connect to the financial messaging system of the Bank of Russia to facilitate faultless interbank transactions.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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