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

Over the last few years, India's defence partnership with Russia has gone from simple buyer-seller relationship to collaborative research, development and production of first-class combat platforms (All images courtesy: Indian Embassy in Moscow)

The Military-Technical Cooperation (MTC) between India and Russia is expected to grow stronger when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold the 21st India-Russia Annual Summit in New Delhi on Monday.

Delivery of the S-400 air defence system and purchase of nearly seven lakh Kalashnikov assault rifles from Moscow, along with plans on joint research and development activities to create new weapons and military equipment systems, will be at the top of the agenda of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu when they both meet for the inaugural 2+2 Dialogue.

With the defence ties being an integral pillar of the 'Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership' between the two countries, India has welcomed Russia's willingness to actively engage in its 'Make in India' initiative for co-development and production of high technology defence items.

"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 Russia Summit

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.

Expanding Indian-Russian military cooperation

The growing Modi-Putin camaraderie, and the increasing multifaceted bilateral cooperation, is highlighted by the fact that the two leaders have met each other 19 times since 2014.  

After their last meeting at the BRICS Summit in Brasilia in November 2019, both have had six telephonic conversations during the Covid-19 pandemic and several virtual interactions on various multilateral platforms.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the establishment of the India-Russia Strategic Partnership and the 11th anniversary of its elevation to a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.

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.

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. 

India Russia

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