Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 3
Russia has sought to insert itself in India’s security calculus to make the most of the opening provided by the Pulwama episode.
Moscow’s commiserations, to begin with, came from higher echelons than is usual. The presidential spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, followed by President Vladimir Putin, expressed their condolences, besides the usual stream of statements from the Russian Foreign Office.
On Sunday, Putin sent a personal message in the middle of a Congress-BJP slugfest over appropriation of credit on the opening of the Kalashnikov factory in Amethi, the Gandhi family backyard. Significantly, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman read out the message at a function attended by PM Narendra Modi.
Putin promised “full localisation of production’’, a key Modi endeavour, amid talks of India planning to lease a second nuclear submarine from Russia. A nuclear submarine is a potent game-changer, as underlined by the PM after India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine Arihant returned from its maiden deterrent patrolling last year. Another in the arsenal would cement Russia’s position as India’s leading naval partner.
Russia is also persuading India to discuss counter-terrorism at SCO and Putin’s call to Modi is expected to weaken Indian resolve to stay away from multilateral meetings such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation where Pakistan is present too.
Moscow’s active participation ensures its interests in oil and military cooperation are not outflanked by the US, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE that played an active role in standing by India in its tension with Pakistan.
Meanwhile, UK’s Minister for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field visited India and met Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to discuss tension between India and Pakistan.
With India planning to lease a nuclear submarine from Russia, the Kremlin would be willing to cement its position as New Delhi’s leading naval partner
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