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Delegation level talks begin at Kremlin: What India can expect from Russia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday arrived in Moscow on a two-day visit to Russia for the 16th Annual Bilateral Summit between the two countries. There has been much anticipation over the likelihood of several

India TV News Desk Updated on: December 24, 2015 22:21 IST
modi in moscow what india can expect from russia
modi in moscow what india can expect from russia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday arrived in Moscow on a two-day visit to Russia for the 16th Annual Bilateral Summit between the two countries. There has been much anticipation over the likelihood of several deals that the two countries manage to strike.

The expectations come in the backdrop of Modi government's announcements suggesting a major development programme for the country's armed forces. Estimates indicate that deals between the two countries could well be worth a whopping $150 billion. PM Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have already begun their formal meetings at Kremlin.

India, on its part, wants to boost trade with Russia significantly in the coming decade – five-fold if we go by the government's own account. “Mutual investments currently average around $11 billion and we want to increase them up to $30-50 billion by 2025,” India's Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said prior to the PM's departure for Russia on Wednesday.

Expectedly, there are a good number of multi-million dollar deals that Moscow and New Delhi could strike before Modi concludes his visit. Most of them are expected to be in the fields of nuclear energy and defence. “Russia is ready to turn on the green light for the restart of the relationship,” First Deputy Minister of Russia's Economic Development Ministry AlexeyLikhachev said at the opening of the meeting with representatives of Russian and Indian businesses on Thursday.

Much of the groundwork for these deals has already been done.

India's Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) last week agreed to the purchase of five S-400 air defense systems from Russia. This has been termed as among the biggest arms deals between the two countries in a decade. The S-400, also known to be among the crown jewels' of the Russian defence system, is the latest upgrade of its renowned predecessor, S-300 air defense system.

It can hit multiple-range air targets, including fighter jets, bombers, drones, ballistic and cruise missiles at ranges of about 400 kilometers. Its digital target acquisition system and radars allow detecting and hitting several different targets at one go, which makes the system a game-changer in modern warfare.

Among other arms contracts expected to be signed is the purchase of 200 light Ka-226T helicopters, which would replace India's outdated Cheetah and HAL Chetak machines. Both sides could also agree to the lease of a Russian nuclear submarine, along with the purchase of three Russian battleships. A breakthrough in the negotiations for joint production of Russia's PAK FA (T-50) fifth-generation fighter jets is also expected.

Both countries will also discuss hydrocarbon exploration and the development on Russia's Arctic shelf, as well as the construction of nuclear power plants in India. Moscow has already reached an agreement with New Delhi to construct 12 nuclear power plants in India. Work on the Russian-designed Kudankulam reactor is underway. The first generator is already operating and a second is expected to start in the coming months.

Energy cooperation, investment and trade will also be on the agenda during the talks. “Trade between Russia and India does not correspond with the level of trust and cooperation between the countries,” believes Likhachev.

Besides these agreements, the leadership of both countries is also expected to discuss foreign policy issues, particularly on cooperation within the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), the fight against terrorism in the Middle East and the future of Afghanistan.

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