Russia provides a leg up to Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign

NEW DELHI (TIP): In what may appear to be a reaffirmation of sound friendly ties with Russia, notwithstanding Russia’s recent military cooperation agreement with Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, December 11, underlined the primacy of Moscow in New Delhi’s strategic calculus when he said Russia was and would remain India’s most important defense partner.

This, he said, was despite the fact that India now had more options, in what was seen as an oblique reference to its growing military and defense ties with the US. Modi’s remark came after his summit meet here with President Vladimir Putin, who offered India lucrative energy deals and sought to provide a leg-up to Modi’s “Make in India” campaign.

Pacts on 20 nuclear reactors, oil and gas among 20 pacts inked

After the talks, the two countries signed as many as 20 agreements – seven intergovernmental and 13 commercial – including a strategic vision for cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy. Another agreement was signed for partnership in oil and natural gas.. One of the agreements signed will facilitate training of Indian armed forces personnel in the military establishment of Russia’s defense ministry. Modi, who addressed the media in English, said apart from the 4 reactors at Kudankulam, the two countries outlined an “ambitious vision for nuclear energy of at least 10 more reactors” and would look at exporting it to third countries. Putin, in fact, said in his statement that Russia would help build 20 reactors in India. In a boost for Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, Putin also offered to build one of Russia’s most advanced helicopters in India. Putin said the joint initiative could consider exporting the helicopters to other countries.

Modi thanked Putin for the offer, saying Indian authorities would follow up on it quickly. Modi described Putin as a leader of a great nation with which “we have a friendship of unmatched mutual confidence, trust and goodwill”. “We have a strategic partnership that is incomparable in content. The steadfast support of the people of Russia for India has been there even at difficult moments in our history. It has been a pillar of strength for India’s development, security and international relations,” said Modi.

While it is not clear if the Indian side took up the issue of Russia’s agreement with Pakistan which could facilitate supply of arms to India’s neighbor, Modi suggested in his statement that he expected both sides to be sensitive to their concerns. “President Putin and I agreed that this is a challenging moment in the world. Our partnership and the strong sensitivity that we have always had for each other’s interests will be a source of strength to both countries,” he said.

Putin also mentioned the joint fifthgeneration fighter jet project which has failed to make much headway in the recent past. “I would also like to note that projects to jointly develop multi-purpose fighter aircraft and multirole transport planes is another step in our joint work,” he said. Modi also proposed that Russia locate manufacturing facilities in India for spares and components for Russian defense equipment. A joint statement titled “Druzhba-Dosti” said the two countries will study the possibilities of building a hydrocarbon pipeline system, connecting the Russian Federation with India.

Modi said cooperation between the two nations in the hydrocarbon sector had been disappointing until now and that they will pursue an ambitious agenda for partnership in oil and natural gas. Putin also said Russia is ready to cooperate in peaceful space exploration, specifically in the development of close-orbit satellites and use of the GLONASS satellite navigation system. The leaders condoled the loss of lives in “senseless terrorist acts” in recent days in Jammu & Kashmir and Chechnya (Russia).

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