MOSCOW/NEW DELHI: India’s Reliance Defence said on Thursday it had signed a manufacturing and maintenance deal potentially worth $6 billion with Russia’s Almaz-Antey, the maker of an air defence system that sources said the Indian military was poised to buy.
The partnership between the Indian firm controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani and the Russian firm was announced as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a trip to Moscow aimed at strengthening defence ties.
Earlier this week, Indian defence ministry sources said the government had cleared the purchase of five S-400 air defence systems that are estimated to cost about $4.5 billion in a bid to modernise the country’s defences against airborne attacks.
“The two sides identified the air defence missile systems… radars and automated control systems as areas of partnership… as well as offset policies of the Indian Ministry of Defence,” Reliance said in a statement.
Under the offsets policy, global defence contractors are required to invest a percentage of the value of any deal in India to help it build a defence industrial base and reduce imports for a military that has emerged as the world’s biggest buyer of arms in recent years.
India is forecast to spend $250 billion over the next decade to upgrade its military and Modi’s government wants a greater role for Indian state and defence firms.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday told President Vladimir Putin at the annual summit talks that Russia was a strong and reliable friend of India and both countries had a ‘truly strategic’ partnership.
Modi, who is on a two-day visit here, conveyed to Putin that their summit talks would give a fresh impetus to the bilateral relations as it would provide ‘new energy’ to further strengthen ties.
As part of the 16th annual India-Russia Summit, Modi and Putin held a one-on-one meeting before they were joined by their delegations. The two sides continued their deliberations over lunch at the Kremlin.
“India and Russia have a long history of cultural relations. And now we have a strong and reliable friend on the political and international arena — Russia. Russia has always been with us in hard times. We have a strategic partnership, a true strategic partnership,” the prime minister said.
Putin, in his opening remarks, said, “I am pleased to note, and I am happy to do that, that we are consistently and confidently developing the privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia.”
The Russian president said the bilateral relations were developing in all directions — in international politics, economy and the humanitarian area.
Ways to expand economic cooperation between the two countries were also explored in the meeting with both countries aiming to take the current bilateral annual trade of $ 10 billion to $30 billion in the next 10 years.
The prime minister also mentioned about death of a Russian pilot in downing of a Russian plane on the Syrian border.
Modi expressed condolence over the death of Russian citizens in a plane crash in Egypt in October.
“I would like to express my condolences in connection with the recent developments in Egypt and Turkey, when a Russian pilot and innocent Russian citizens died. This was a great tragedy and the entire people of India were with Russia during these difficult moments,” he said.
“Despite the various global problems, despite the confrontation against Russia, you have raised your country, your state to a qualitatively new level. Russia proudly moves along its own development path and I commend you personal leadership in this process,” Modi was quoted as saying by Kremlin.
He also mentioned about Atal Bihari Vajpayee under whose prime ministership the tradition of annual summits between the two countries was ‘born’. “These annual summits have raised Indian-Russian relations to a new level.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also visited Russia’s premier crisis management centre which deals with emergency situations and ensures coordination among various relevant agencies. He spent around half-an-hour at the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC), popularly known as EMERCOM, the short form of Emergency Control Ministry.
He was briefed about the round-the-clock functioning of the various wings of the agency.
The capabilities of the NCMC include state-of-art real time monitoring, data collection, analysis and modelling.