Russia is keen that India should partner it in developing a fifth-generation fighter aircraft as the defence needs of the two countries are similar. The Kremlin firmly believes that this will speed up the process of developing such an aircraft as pooling of enormous resources will facilitate it a great deal. The US, which is also engaged in producing a fifth-generation fighter aicraft, has already spent close to $ 40 billion. Moscow will only be too keen to have India as a trusted partner in this ambitious endeavour.
In this context, the collaboration between the two countries in developing the Brahmos missiles is brought to the fore. There is also a need for the two countries to develop future- generation transport aircraft, specially for the armed forces.
India’s proposal of leasing a second Russian nuclear submarine appears to have receded in the background with the signing of the deal with France for the acquisition of the Scorpene submarines with complete transfer of technology enabling this country to manufacture them at the Mazagaon docks in Mumbai.
“Chakra” was the first nuclear submarine leased from Russia.
While emphasising that it was entirely the Congress-led UPA government’s decision to diversify the country’s defence purchases rather than being wholly dependent on Russia, authoritative sources drew pointed attention to Moscow’s “consistent” policy of not making defence sales to India’s neighbour Pakistan. This despite the fact that Islamabad has made several approaches to Moscow showing keen interest in Russian armaments.
These and other issues are expected to figure at the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he visits Moscow in the first week of December. It is scheduled from December 4 to 6 a few days after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the island state of Malta in the Mediterranean.
In a first of its kind, the armies of India and Russia are presently engaged in a joint exercise in Rajasthan to hone their skills in dealing with the growing menace of international terrorism.
About 80 crack paratroopers of the Russian army are engaged in various exercises specially aimed at demolishing the terrorist infrastructure and wiping out the terrorist elements. Russia believes there is a lot it can learn from India in tackling the problem of terrorism which it has been dealing virtually since Independence. The Russians have arrived in this country with heavy duty equipment and transport aircraft along with the requisite Air Force personnel. These exercises already under way are expected to be spread over 10 days till October 20.
Simultaneously from October 18 to 20, the Indian and Russian navies will hold joint exercises off Visakhapatnam where the Indian Navy’s Eastern Command is based. While the Russian ships of missile cruisers are already close to Indian territorial waters, they will move in on October 18. The Russians will only have surface and other support ships and no submarines. There will be some Indian submarines taking part in the exercises.
Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov will arrive here on October 15 and witness the exercises between the two armies the next day and subsequently visit Visakhapatnam.
Interestingly, Russia’s former Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who is currently the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, is arriving here on a three-day visit from October 21. He will hold discussions with National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan who had paid a brief two-day visit to Moscow immediately after the Prime Minister’s visit to New York last month.
Later from October 26 onwards, External Affairs minister K. Natwar Singh will be in Moscow for the Indo-Russian Joint Commission meeting as well as prepare for Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to the country for the annual summit between the two countries.