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Putin and Modi Boost Russia-India Defense Partnership

Dec. 28, 2015 (EIRNS)—While the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day (Dec. 24-25) visit was primarily designed to rejuvenate Russia-India relations at a juncture when Eurasian development is on the anvil, the trip has also consolidated the age-old Russia-India defense relationship. During the Cold War, and the immediate years that followed, Russia was India’s prime supplier of military hardware. Over the last decade, however, that relationship had weakened significantly, and many new suppliers from the West and Israel established themselves in the Indian market. Following Modi’s trip to Moscow, The Hindu said today, Russia has reestablished itself as India’s prime defense partner reclaiming the position as top supplier of defense hardware.

There were a number of international issues Modi had to discuss in Russia, but the two most important bilateral issues were securing the Russian partnership in Modi’s "Make in India" campaign, in the form of a joint production of Russian military hardware in India and accessing the Russian oil and gas fields. Modi met with some success in securing a Russian partnership in the joint production in the defense sector when both sides signed an agreement for the production of Russian Kamov-226T utility helicopters in India. Under the agreement, 200 Ka-226T helicopters will be built in India, for which Russian helicopters will partner with India’s Reliance group to execute the program. Two more such projects, which remain to be signed, as the two sides could not reach agreement during Modi’s visit, include building four frontline warships, estimated to cost about $4.5 billion at a private shipyard in Gujarat; and a partnership for refitting and modernizing all of the Indian Navy’s surface ships of Russian and Soviet origin. Currently, there are 35 Russian/Soviet-origin surface ships in the Indian Navy fleet. The value of this business is estimated to be over $5.2 billion.

On India’s quest for access to the Russian oil, Hindustan Times reported on Dec. 25 that the state-owned Indian Oil Corp. and Oil India Ltd. signed an agreement with Russia’s oil firm Rosneft to explore the possibility of picking up a stake in the Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha oilfield in East Siberia. The two Indian firms signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the largest publicly-traded oil company for cooperation in geological survey, exploration and production of hydrocarbons in select onshore assets in the Russian Federation, Indian Oil Corp. said in a statement.