Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 27
Indicating a shift from public perception of having turned pro-US, New Delhi has told Moscow it will remain its “foremost” defence partner and has shared a future vision of a relationship that could very well mirror the “past”.
At a meeting between Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his Russian counterpart General Sergey Shoigu here yesterday, New Delhi proposed a greater military-to-military contact and setting up of Indo-Russia joint ventures in producing spares for military equipment. “Military contact and not trade will be the guiding force in the Indo-Russian ties,” a source said.
New Delhi in its internal assessment has decided to “recapture the dynamism of the military-to-military interaction as it was earlier” — the days of the erstwhile Soviet Union (it disintegrated in 1991) when Indian officers, troops, sailors and pilots frequently trained with the Russians.
However, this does not mean India would return to the Cold War-era (1945-1991) relationship when it was “seen” in the Soviet bloc despite its non-aligned status.
“We have told the visiting Russian delegation, let’s focus on increasing our relationship higher. The India-Russia relationship is massive and should not be seen through the India-US relationship. Both are separate and will grow separately,” a source told The Tribune, adding the Russian delegation did not raise the issue of the logistics supply agreement inked between India-US some two months ago.
A “non-paper” — diplomatic word for informal suggestions put in written format — was exchanged with the Russian delegation yesterday and it suggests a greater complexity of military exercises; an increased frequency in exercises and institutionalised interaction at all senior levels of the two militaries.
The existing 16-year-old annual “military-technical” agenda shall have an additional aspect to it i.e. “military-cooperation”, sources said. More than 70 per cent of the Indian military equipment is of Soviet/Russian origin, including the sea-borne aircraft carrier, nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra, BrahMos missiles, Mi-17 helicopters, Sukhoi-30 fighter jets, among others.
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