Rajnath gets Russia assurance of speedy completion of defence deals2 min read . Updated: 24 Jun 2020, 06:00 AM IST
Defence minister says Russia will honour ongoing contracts and even take some of them forward with shorter delay
NEW DELHI : Russia has assured India that it would fulfil all ongoing contracts for military hardware and also accelerate supplies in some cases, defence minister Rajnath Singh told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday after talks with Russian deputy prime minister Yury Borisov, in the backdrop of the geopolitical tensions with China.
“My discussions were very positive and productive. I have been assured that ongoing contracts will be maintained and not just maintained, in a number of cases will be taken forward in a shorter time. All our proposals have received positive response from the Russian side. I am fully satisfied with my discussions," Singh said in comments made available by India’s defence ministry.
The comments are significant following reports that Singh was to request Moscow to urgently supply spares required by the Indian military amid heightened tensions with China.
As much as 60% of India’s defence equipment is of Russian origin, despite New Delhi diversifying its sources of military hardware in recent years with increased purchases from the US, Israel and France.
Though Singh’s visit was to attend ceremonies associated with the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany in the Second World War, a report by ANI news agency said Singh will ask Russia to supply the spares needed for Indian fighter jets, tanks and submarines to be dispatched by air rather than by ship to reduce travel time.
Another ANI report said last week that Singh would seek 21 MiG-29 and 12 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets from Russia. Though on the negotiation table for more than two years, India’s defence ministry was expected to fast-track approvals for procuring the additional aircraft to make up for shortfalls caused by the phasing out of Soviet-era MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircraft besides the loss of SU-30MKI through crashes.
The deal to procure the MiG-29s and SU-30MKI was worth ₹5,000- ₹6,000 crore. The defence ministry, the Indian Air Force and the Russian embassy in New Delhi declined to comment on the reports.
On Tuesday, Singh said that defence ties were a key pillar of the India-Russia “special and privileged strategic partnership". He said that he reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral defence relationship with deputy prime minister Borisov.
Noting that his visit to Moscow was the first outside the country in four months since the covid-19 pandemic outbreak brought international travel to a standstill, the defence minister said the visit was a “sign of our special friendship."
“Despite all the difficulties of the pandemic, our bilateral relations are keeping good contacts at various levels. We look forward to the visit of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, later this year," Singh added.