In a significant move to deepen defense ties with Russia, India on Saturday announced that it will buy the S-400 Triumf air defence systems from Russia, and collaborate in making four state of art frigates besides setting up a joint production facility for making Kamov helicopters. The most strategically important decision is the Inter Governmental Agreement for the purchase of S-400 ‘Triumf’ long-range air defence missile system which has the capability to destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km. India and Russia have been in talks for over a year for the purchase of at least five systems of S-400 that will be a game-changer in the region.
Another important deal is for four Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356) guided-missile stealth frigates. Under this deal, two vessels will come from Russian and while the other two will be built in India with Russian collaboration. No decision has been made on the selection of the Indian shipyard. The complex agreement for the production of 200 Kamov 226T helicopters domestically under a nearly $1 billion deal to replace the country’s aging Cheetah and Chetak choppers is yet another important defence deal between the countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held wide-ranging talks covering the entire expanse of bilateral engagement following which the two sides signed a total of 16 MoUs and made three announcements to boost ties in sectors like trade and investment, hydrocarbons, space and smart cities. The two leaders also dedicated the unit two of Kudankulum nuclear power plant and witnessed foundation laying of its Unit 3 and 4.
PM Modi said Russia, “an old friend of India”, has cleared its stand on terrorism and backs New Delhi in its fight against terror. “Russia’s clear stand on the need to combat terrorism mirrors our own,” Modi said in a joint address to the media. Modi said he deeply appreciated Russia’s support of “our actions to fight cross-border terrorism that threatens our entire region”.
The remarks are significant as in the wake of attacks by Pakistan-based terrorists on Indian Army camps, to which New Delhi responded with surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC). India has also launched a diplomatic blitz to isolate Pakistan, a country it accuses of sponsoring and aiding cross-border terrorism. The Prime Minister said the ties between the India and Russia were “truly privileged and unique” and used a Russian maxim on friendship, remarking that in Russia they say “an old friend is better than two new friends”. He praised President Putin’s continuous personal attention on strengthening ties with India.
“Your personal attention has been a source of strength to our relationship, your leadership provided stability and substance to our strategic partnership. Ours is a truly privileged relationship.” Modi and Putin earlier held a closed-door bilateral meeting as part of the annual India-Russia summit.
On trade ties, Modi said both countries continue to expand, diversify and deepen economic engagement. “Businesses and industry between our two countries are connected more deeply today. Trade and investment ties are on the upswing.
“And, with President Putin’s backing, we hope to fast track India’s association with Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement,” he said. Modi added that efforts by the two sides for early setting up of the Investment Fund of USD 1 billion between National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) will help advance infrastructure partnership.
The Prime Minister said success of the Summit “shines a spotlight on the abiding strength of India-Russia strategic partnership. “It also highlights our strong convergence of views and positions on pressing international and regional issues,” he said.
Modi said both he and Putin noted the similarity of views on the situation in Afghanistan and turmoil in West Asia. “We also agreed to work closely to respond to the challenges posed by the unsettled nature of the global economic and financial markets. Our close collaboration at the United Nations, BRICS, East Asia Summit, G-20 and Shanghai Cooperation Organization makes our partnership truly global, both in its scope and coverage,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)