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S-400 missiles, AK-203 assault rifles flagship next cycle of India-Russia military partnership

The dialogue between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Sergey Shoigu also yielded a 10-year mega-plan for military-technical collaboration between the two countries (Images courtesy: Twitter/MOD_Russia)

Following the likely induction of the S-400 air defence missiles next month and the signing of the AK-203 assault rifle deal on Monday, Russia has set in motion another cycle of beefing up India’s military deterrence for the next decade.

These deals among others are expected to deter hostile moves towards India by both China and Pakistan. They also dent the possibility of a two-front war waged jointly against India by Beijing and Islamabad, and have therefore emerged as a major factor for imparting regional peace and stability. The AK deal will have a special impact on discouraging cross-border terrorism, as the weapon will be extensively used during counter-terror operations.  

The dialogue between defence minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu also yielded a 10-year mega-plan for military-technical collaboration between the two countries, ensuring the core strategic collaboration between India and Russia will remain undented by New Delhi’s ties with Washington and Moscow's relationship with Beijing.

“India deeply appreciates Russia’s strong support for India. We hope that our cooperation will bring peace, prosperity and stability to the entire region. Glad that a number of agreements/contracts/protocols were signed pertaining to small arms and military cooperation,” Rajnath Singh tweeted on Monday.

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Separately, Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov confirmed that the strategic S-400 deal has been “implemented”.

“S-400 deal doesn't have only a symbolic meaning. It has a very important practical meaning for an Indian defence capability and the situation is basically underway. The deal has been implemented,” said Lavrov.

India Narrative earlier reported quoting Hindustan Times that at least two regiments of S-400s would be inducted along India’s northern and eastern borders by the beginning 2022.

The daily pointed out that once the inductions are made, they would balance the China’s tactical advantages along the 1,597-km  Line of Control (LAC) in Ladakh following Beijing’s surprise transgressions in May 2020

The report, citing diplomatic sources, said that advance elements of S-400 systems have already started arriving, and deep penetration radars of the two systems would be in place next month. The two S-400 systems will be fully deployed by early 2022 to match China's positioning of the same system across the Ladakh and Arunachal LAC.

China has deployed its S-400 missiles in Ngari Gar Gunsa opposite Ladakh and Nyingchi air base facing Arunachal Pradesh.

Russia has already trained two Indian military teams that can operate the highly advanced S-400 system, which can target hostile targets 400 kilometres away.

Also Read: Will deployment of the S-400 missiles by India end the Ladakh stalemate with China?

The AK-203 deal has a price tag of ₹5,100 crore, involving joint production of more than 500,000 assault rifles at a facility in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district. The rifles will be manufactured by a joint venture called the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited. It is a collaboration between Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited and Munitions India Limited with Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Kalashnikov.

Also Read: The external dimensions of India-Russia relations