Modi-Putin summit: India, Russia reiterate their partnership, ink 28 agreements; S-400 missile systems delivery on
India and Russia on Monday emphasized the steadiness and diversity of their strategic partnership, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a "truly a unique and trusted model of inter-state friendship," as Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their annual bilateral summit talks in New Delhi Monday preceded by the inaugural 2+2 dialogue between their defence and foreign ministers
India and Russia on Monday emphasized the steadiness and diversity of their strategic partnership, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a "truly a unique and trusted model of inter-state friendship," as Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their annual bilateral summit talks in New Delhi Monday preceded by the inaugural 2+2 dialogue between their defence and foreign ministers. The bilateral summit also saw the inking of 28 agreements, including in the field of defence and energy cooperation. One of the key agreements was on the manufacture of over 600,000 7.62mm AK-203 Kalashnikov assault rifles that will be produced in India, and another on extending the military technology cooperation for the next decade.
Russia reiterated it is delivering the S-400 surface-to-air Triumf missile systems to India as planned, ignoring protests by the US. The Rosoboronexport head said in mid-November that Russia had begun the deliveries of S-400 medium-to-long-range anti-aircraft missile systems to India much ahead of schedule.
Putin, who arrived on a brief working visit late Monday afternoon, headed straight to Hyderabad House for the summit with PM Modi. The summit talks lasted three and a half hours and Putin left straight for the airport after the talks. This was the first international visit of Putin outside Russia, other than the one he made to Geneva to meet US President Joe Biden in June, underlying the importance of India in Russia's foreign policy calculus.
“Many kinds of geopolitical changes have taken place, but in the midst of all the variables India-Russia friendship has remained a constant. Both nations have engaged with each other without hindrance, and have also kept each other’s sensitivities especially in mind. This is truly a unique and trusted model of inter-state friendship," Modi declared.
He said the two sides have targeted USD 30 billion trade and USD 50 billion investment till 2025. “We need to guide our business communities in order to reach the target,” he added.
Putin, in his remarks, said Russia views India as a great power, a friendly nation and a time-tested friend.
Defence cooperation, trade and energy, comprised a major chunk of the talks between Modi and Putin, with emphasis placed on joint development and joint production in the defence sector, officials said.
“Responding to India’s quest for self-sufficiency, the partnership is reorienting presently to joint research and development, co-development and joint production of advanced defence technology and systems,” said the joint statement.
The two sides held their inaugural 2+2 dialogue, participated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, with their Russian counterparts, Sergey Shoigu and Sergey Lavrov. While Jaishankar and Lavrov held a bilateral in the morning, Rajnath Singh and Shoigu co-chaired the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation. Later, the four ministers held the 2+2 dialogue.
Singh said he had an “opportunity to discuss in detail with General Shoigu the emerging challenges that India is confronted with and the enhanced requirement for India for closer military-and -military technical cooperation with Russia.”
In remarks targeting China and its military build-up in eastern Ladakh, he said: “The pandemic and the extraordinary materialization and expansion of armament in our neighbourhood and the unprovoked aggression on our northern border since early summer of 2020 have thrown in several challenges. India is confident of overcoming these challenges with its strong political will and the inherent capability of its people."
The joint statement issued after the talks had substantial reference to Afghanistan and terrorism. Both leaders welcomed the close coordination between their two sides on Afghanistan, including through the creation of a permanent consultative mechanism on the issue between the Security Councils of both countries.
The two sides also reaffirmed their firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and countering radicalization, to ensure that Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism.
The two sides inked a contract on the delivery of over 600,000 7.62mm AK-203 assault rifles that will be produced in India. Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) is opening a new page in Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation, Kalashnikov CEO Vladimir Lepin said.
"Russian and Indian specialists have carried out large-scale preparatory work over three years to optimize the project’s price and technological parameters. Now that the contract has been signed, we are ready to start the production of advanced AK-203s in the town of Korwa in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, in the coming months," the Kalashnikov press office quoted the chief executive as saying.
"But the most important thing is that India will gain competencies in the production of small arms with the help of Russian partners," he stressed, Tass reported.
Russia is ready to arrange the local production of the advanced assault rifle that is not inferior to foreign rivals and even outshines them by many parameters and therefore this is a major event for the Russian industry as well, he said.
Russian military officials said that the first regiment of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems would be delivered to India by the end of this year. The two sides had inked a $5.43 billion contract on the delivery of five regiment sets of S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems during President Putin’s visit to India in October 2018.
Both sides noted with satisfaction the successful implementation of the 2011-2020 Long-Term Program for Military and Technical Cooperation and welcomed the signing of a new long-term program for the period 2021-2031 that would enable manufacturing in India of spare parts, components, aggregates and other products for the maintenance of Russian origin arms and defence equipment under Make-in-India program through transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures, both for meeting the needs of the Indian Armed Forces as well as subsequent export to mutually friendly third countries.
"While the common refrain is that Russia, pushed by the West, has built bridges with China and appears to work in tandem on geopolitical issues, it would be erroneous to view Sino-Russian partnership as working against India’s interests," Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury of the Economic Times noted in a commentary before the Putin visit. And "supply of the first squadron of S-400s is a testimony to decades-old defence partnership. New Delhi and Moscow have been steadfast in their support for each other’s territorial sovereignty," he said. (SAM)