In a major breakthrough in Indo-Russian defence ties, India will start manufacturing spare parts and components for the Russian military equipment under transfer of technology and set up joint ventures, as the two strategic partners tried to transform their existing buyer-seller relationship into one of collaboration.
This was agreed during wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin here in the Far East Russian port city as they pledged to elevate India-Russia partnership to new heights of cooperation.
Close cooperation between Russia and India in military and military-technical areas is a key pillar of bilateral and especially privileged strategic partnership, the two leaders said.
According to a joint statement, the two countries expressed their commitment to upgrading their defence cooperation, including by fostering joint development and production of military equipment, components and spare parts, improve the after-sales service system.
Both countries agreed to take forward ongoing engagement to encourage joint manufacturing in India of spare parts, components, aggregates and other products for maintenance of Russian origin Arms and defence equipment under the Make-in-India programme through transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures.
Briefing reporters on the Modi-Putin talks, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the agreement for manufacturing spare parts for the Russian military equipment was in tune with Prime Minister Modi's wish to transform the Indo-Russia defence relationship from one of buyer-seller to a collaborative one.
The two sides agreed to foster cooperation with the goal of keeping joint production in India of spare parts, components and other products on track. This is aimed at ensuring the maintenance of the Russian-made armaments and military equipment under the Make in India programme by transferring technologies and setting up joint ventures, the official Tass news agency reported.
In the joint statement, the two sides recognised the need for an institutional arrangement for reciprocal provision of logistic support and services for the Armed Forces. It was agreed to prepare a framework for cooperation on reciprocal logistics support, it said.
During their joint address to the media, President Putin said Russia has been a reliable partner to India in the field of defence for the last five decades. Putin and Modi earlier in the day visited the Zvezda ship-building facility in Vladivostok.
Meanwhile, a senior Russian defence official said India has ordered from Russia a total of $14.5 billion worth of weapons and other military equipment.
"Last year and today saw the emergence of a tremendous portfolio of contracts in contrast to all previous years, $14.5 billion. This is an impressive figure, it's a real breakthrough," the chief of the federal service for military-technical cooperation, Dmitry Shugayev, said on Wednesday.
"Military cooperation between Russia and India is the most important element of privileged strategic interaction," he was quoted as saying by the official Tass news agency.
Shugayev noted that last year, although India was under pressure, mostly from the US, major contracts were concluded for the supply of S-400 missile systems, frigates of project 11356, and a large batch of ammunition for the Air Force, the Navy and the ground forces.
"Currently we proceed with talks on the supply and licensed production of the portable air defence system Igla-S for India. We won a one-billion-dollar bidding contest," Shugayev was quoted as saying by the report.