Vladimir Putin to get MiG 21s as welcome gift during 19th India-Russia Summit in DelhiOct 03,2018 SOURCE: Express News Service
Russian President Vladimir Putin will get a rather unusual gift of three ‘Make in India’ MiG 21 fighter jets when he arrives for the 19th India-Russia Summit in Delhi from October 4 to 5.In the early 1960s after the US and the UK refused to sell supersonic fighter jets, India bought more than 1,200 MiGs from the former Soviet Union. It subsequently got full tech transfer to indigenously build the aircraft. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia picked up the mantle of being India’s largest defence partner, with Russian equipment and platforms still forming India’s military backbone. But the symbolism of the gift underlines a growing unease and uncertainty in the “time tested” relationship between the two nations, caused by the increasingly tighter strategic embrace between New Delhi and Washington. The US decision to impose sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 US election further complicates the relationship. In September, the US State department announced immediate sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director Li Shangfu for Beijing’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system. New Delhi’s decision to defy the possibility of US sanctions and acquire the S-400 system from Moscow, along with a host of other military deals likely to be signed during Putin’s visit, is likely to allay some, but not all Russian concerns. “In October last year, just after the 4th meeting of the US-India Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation, a Russian paper reported that the Indian Navy had given the visiting American delegation access to INS Chakra, the Akula-II-class Russian nuclear powered attack submarine on lease with India,” recalled a senior Indian official. “It took a lot of convincing on our part to reassure the Russians that no such access had ever been granted, to the Americans or anybody else,” he said, underlining the Russian anxiety over India’s growing military collaboration with the US. The signing of Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) further fuelled Russian anxiety. There are reports that Moscow now wants similar agreements with New Delhi in order to protect its military technology now available to India. An Indian official, however, played down these concerns, saying that most of these were addressed during the Sochi ‘informal summit” between PM Narendra Modi and Putin in May. “In fact, though defence still remains the key driver of our long relationship, we are actively seeking to expand cooperation and trade during this visit,” he said. “These include energy, both nuclear and fossil, space – our astronauts are being trained for their first manned mission to space in Russia – and the ramping up of the north south trade corridor, which will connect Moscow to Mumbai through Central Asia.” DEALS IN THE PIPLEINE: Four S-400 air defence missile systems worth about US $ 5.5 billion Another refurbished Akula Class nuclear-powered attack submarine to replace INS Chakra worth over $2 billion Four 1135.6 Krivak-class frigates worth $2 billion. A government-to-government deal to produce AK-103 assault rifles in one of the state-owned ordnance factories. Manufacture 200 Kamov light utility helicopters at HAL, Bengaluru, under an agreement signed during Modi’s visit to Moscow in 2016, worth over $1 billion.