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India-Russia Summit- Key Defence Agreements on the Cards

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today will embark on his first state visit to Russia for the 16th annual India-Russia summit. The meeting specifically will focus on expanding strategic partnership with Moscow and will highlight a number of important issues from defence to energy, hydrocarbons, trade and counter terrorism. New Delhi is expecting a $1 billion key agreement with Moscow to produce over 200 kamov 226 helicopters in India.

Earlier President Vladimir Putin has made a new deal on the delivery of Sukhoi T-50 (PAK FA) fighter jets to India under the joint Fifth Generation Aircraft (FGFA) initiative. Under this new agreement, India now will have to pay $ 3.7 billion instead of the previous $6 billion for gathering technical know-how and three prototypes of PAK FA fighter jets. However, PM Narendra Modi is yet to give a nod to this proposal.

Russia has been a “trusted friend” of India for a very long time and it is expected that during this summit major steps would be taken to further the economic ties and bilateral trade between the two countries from a current $10 billion to $30 billion in the coming 10 years.

It has been although quite some time that the central government has tried to reduce India’s reliance towards costly military hardware imports but the ecosystem that needed to have a sustainable defence manufacturing base has been missing. India has the world’s third largest army and Russian military hardware has been a significant support for India’s military growth. So, despite military hardware exports from US and Israel have increased in recent times, Moscow still remains a key supplier to India. The summit is expected to further stretch on this point.

The third largest oil importer after USA and China, India although in recent times is in dire need of energy. So it is said that the country will prioritize for an agreement for oil exploration in Russia has Russia is home to a huge reservoir of natural gas.

New Delhi is also likely to talk about a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Eurasian Economic Zone to further strengthen its bilateral ties with Moscow.

India has been long demanding for a permanent membership at United Nations Security Council and in recent times the talks have been going on at the global level. India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said that both the two countries will also discuss the possible optimal way to reach this goal that holds an important aspect on the international as well as domestic arena.

Counter terrorism and Syrian crisis are also on the cards and New Delhi has said that it supports Russia’s move towards Syria since both Russian and Syrian government are in discussion to combat the global threat-ISIS.

Last but not the least, both New Delhi and Moscow will ensure of more inter-change of culture and people-to-people contact.

Source- ET, Firstpost

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