India and Russia today decided to “upgrade and intensify” bilateral defence cooperation through joint manufacture, co-production and co-development of key military hardware and equipment. The decision to ramp up defence cooperation was taken during the annual summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin here.
A vision document, issued after the talks, said both the countries also decided to work towards a “qualitatively higher level of military-to-military cooperation. “We will upgrade and intensify this (military) cooperation, through joint manufacture, co-production and co- development of military hardware and military spares, with increasing reliance on the adoption and sharing of future technologies, in compliance with the obligations of the sides under the existing agreements on military-technical cooperation,” it said.
The two countries said bilateral defence cooperation is built on strong mutual trust and it will grow further. “We will work towards a qualitatively higher level of military-to-military cooperation. We will continue holding regular joint land and sea military exercise, and training in each others’ military institutions,” the document said.
The two countries will hold first ever tri-services exercise ‘Indra’ later this year. Russia has been one of India’s key major suppliers of arms and ammunition. However, it has been a long-standing grievance of armed forces that supply of critical spares and equipment from Russia takes a long time affecting maintenance of military systems procured from that country.
In March, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had said Russia should adopt a liberal approach in sharing technology for components of major defence platforms saying it was critical to keep them in operational readiness as most of India’s weapons systems are of Russian-origin.