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Defence Ministers of India and Russia begin meeting ahead of Modi-Putin Summit in Delhi

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu in New Delhi on Monday

With defence ties being an integral pillar of the 'Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership' between India and Russia, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu have begun their meeting in New Delhi on Monday morning ahead of the 21st India-Russia Annual Summit. 

This is the first meeting between India and Russia in the 2+2 format. Separately, External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar is set to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, setting the stage of the grand summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President, Vladimir Putin in the afternoon.

Both ministers discussed the Military-Technical Cooperation (MTC) between India and Russia which is expected to grow stronger when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold the summit later in the day.

Rajnath India Russia

Discussions between Singh and Shoigu – part of the India-Russia intergovernmental commission on military and military-technical cooperation – are expected to focus around the delivery of the S-400 air defence system and purchase of nearly seven lakh Kalashnikov assault rifles from Moscow.

Plans on joint research and development activities to create new weapons and military equipment systems, will also be at the top of the agenda of when they both meet for the inaugural 2+2 Dialogue along with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before the all-important Modi-Putin meeting in the afternoon.

Lavrov had arrived in New Delhi earlier today. He is expected to hold detailed discussions with Jaishankar on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and Central Asia, especially after the return of Taliban in Afghanistan.

"A lot of preparatory work has been done, during which Russian specialists, together with Indian partners, have developed an effective production model," Bekkhan Ozdoev, Industrial Director of the weapons complex of Russian state-owned technology conglomerate Rostec, told Moscow-based media group RBC last week on India signing a $590 million contract with Kalashnikov during Putin's New Delhi visit.

India has last month carved out seven new defence companies out of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) which, as PM Modi said on Vijayadashami, would play an important role in import substitution, in line with the vision of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'.

If all goes well, the production of the latest AK-203 series of the iconic Kalashnikov rifles will begin in the first quarter of 2022 at Korwa Ordnance Factory in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi.

Russia ranks first in the field of military-technical cooperation between India and foreign countries, acquiring more than 60% of military and technical equipment, including the procurement of spare parts and components for licensed production of weapons and military equipment.

New Delhi has stressed that over the years that the partnership with Moscow has gone from simple buyer-seller relationships to collaborative research, development and production of first-class combat platforms.

The production of supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, jointly developed by India's DRDO and NPOM of Russia, and the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks remain a standout example of India-Russia defence cooperation.

Also Read: Ahead of his visit, Putin praises India as one of the hubs of a multipolar world

Both parties are also involved in the joint design and development of the Fifth Generation Fighter and the Multipurpose Transport Aircraft, supply of MiG-29K aircraft, MI-17 and Kamov-31 helicopters, modernization of MiG-29 aircraft, manufacturing of frigates and supply of Multiple Launch Missile Systems.

"In our January 26 parade this year, a lot of exhibits were Russian made.that is the measure of cooperation that we have in defence sector," said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla at Moscow's Russian Diplomatic Academy, earlier this year.

India has also taken a number of steps to expedite the collaboration between the Indian and Russian companies after the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on the joint manufacturing of spares in India signed in Vladivostok on September 4, 2019.

The IGA provides a framework for partnership of Russian Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs) with Indian industry for manufacturing of spare parts of Russian origin equipment in use by the Indian defence forces under the 'Make in India' initiative.

Besides conducting INDRA joint military exercises, the Defence Ministers of both the countries continue to hold their annual meetings, alternately in Russia and India, even during the ongoing pandemic.

Last year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to Moscow to participate in an event to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Victory Day Parade at Red Square, had discussed a broad range of areas of cooperation between the two countries in a meeting with Russian Defence Minister, General Sergei Shoigu.

Also Read: Putin likely to flag key military partnerships under ‘Atmanirbhar’ logo during pathbreaking visit to India