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Russia, India sign weapons deals worth billions

Published Dec 24, 2012 11:57am


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Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, before a meeting at his residence in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec 24, 2012. - AP Photo
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, before a meeting at his residence in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec 24, 2012. - AP Photo

NEW DELHI: Russia and India signed new weapons deals worth billions of dollars Monday as President Vladimir Putin sought to further boost ties with an old ally.  

Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed cooperation between their countries as officials signed a $1.6 billion deal for India to purchase 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets and a $1.3 billion contract for the delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters.

Singh said the talks included discussions on the security situation in the region, including Afghanistan.

“India and Russia share the objective of a stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, free from extremism,” Singh told reporters after the talks.

While the volume of Russian-Indian trade has risen six-fold since 2000 and is expected to reach $10 billion this year, the growth has slowed in recent years. And even though India remains the No 1 customer for Russia's arms industries, Moscow has recently lost several multibillion-dollar contracts to Western weapons makers.

Russia and India have shared close ties since the Cold War, when Moscow was a key ally and the principal arms supplier to New Delhi.

The ties slackened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but grew stronger again after Putin came to power in 2000, seeking to revive Moscow's global clout and restore ties with old allies.

Russia has maintained its strong positions in the Indian market with $30 billion worth of arms contracts with India signed in 2000-2010 that envisaged supplies of hundreds of fighter jets, missiles, tanks and other weapons, a large part of which were license-produced in India.

The countries have cooperated on building an advanced fighter plane and a new transport aircraft and have jointly developed a supersonic cruise missile for the Indian Navy.

But the military cooperation has hit snags in recent years, as New Delhi shops increasingly for Western weapons. The Indians also haven't been always happy with the quality of Russian weapons and their rising prices.

In one notable example, in 2004 Russia signed a $1 billion contract to refurbish a Soviet-built aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy. While the deal called for the ship to be commissioned in 2008, it is still in a Russian shipyard and the contract price has reportedly soared to $2.3 billion.

The target date for the carrier's completion was moved back again this year after it suffered major engine problems in sea trials. Russian officials now promise to hand it over to India in the end of 2013.

India has also demanded that Russia pay fines for failing to meet terms under a 2006 contract for building three frigates for its navy, the third of which is yet to be commissioned.

Russia recently has suffered major defeats in competition with Western rivals in the Indian arms market.

Last year, Russia lost a tender to supply the Indian Air Force with 126 new fighter jets worth nearly $11 billion to France's Dassault Rafale. And last month, Boeing won India's order for a batch of heavy-lift helicopters worth $1.4 billion.

“Russian arms traders must draw lessons from those failures and polish their skills in information support and marketing,” said Igor Korotchenko, a retired colonel and now editor of National Defense magazine. “Competition in the Indian market is intensifying.”

Konstantin Makiyenko, the deputy head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, an independent Moscow-based think-tank specialising in weapons trade, said that the Russian failures were partly rooted in India's desire to balance Russian gear with US and other Western weapons.

“They welcome the Americans, and it's impossible to prevent the strengthening of India-US ties,” he said.

Russia has sought to downplay recent defeats of its arms traders, saying that other weapons deals with India are under preparation.

Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, who briefed reporters ahead of the visit, said military cooperation with India will “expand and deepen,” adding that concerns about Russia losing its dominance in the Indian arms market were exaggerated.

As part of its cooperation with India, Russia also has built the first reactor at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant and is building a second unit there. The project has been delayed by protests by anti-nuclear groups and local residents.

Putin's visit was scheduled for late October, but was delayed as the Russian leader suspended foreign travel for about two months.

The Kremlin acknowledged that he was suffering from a muscle pulled during judo training. Putin resumed active travel earlier this month, making several foreign trips.


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Comments (41) Closed

Sandy Dec 24, 2012 03:37pm
Just give a one good way through which India could protect its sovereignty which is surrounded by hostile environment who itself is increasing its fire power, and more then that India can afford to buy arms as it is not Pakistan where growth rate is only 3-4%.
sharaah Dec 24, 2012 01:30pm
sorry the above post says 70%..but actually it is 21%...according to world bank...IMF etc...
Kuldip Dec 24, 2012 03:48pm
These western countries are not going to let poor asian nations live in peace. With 600 million poor people and hundreds of other issues India still investing in weapons. Problem is China which has constantly behaved badly and has bad relations with every Asian country.
raika45 Dec 24, 2012 01:21pm
Please know your geography.There is relative peace in South East Asia that comprises countries east of the Indian sub continent.You must be referring to South Asia that comprises countries of the Indian sub continent.No offence meant.
umair khan Dec 24, 2012 03:45pm
a step further towards a de stabilized south manmohan can ignore 50 % of entire world's poor who resides in india over buying useless weaponary from world market.
Cyrus Howell Dec 24, 2012 04:03pm
You can run, but you will just die tired.
Ragu Dec 24, 2012 04:03pm
I agree. The western nations, The Chinese and The Russians are making fools out of India and Pakistan; They manipulate us to hate each other and manipulate us further to purchase weapons worth billions when we have millions starving, poor schools, pathetic roads, lousy hospitals, water shortage, shortage of electricity, rampant corruption, and many more challenges.
Muhammad Dec 24, 2012 03:24pm
Perhaps Pakistan is worried about it, but India's race for military power is not just with Pakistan; India is focussed on China, and the strong desire to become world power and have veto rights at the United Nations. If Pakistan wants that glory, they should unite back with India, just as East Germany and West Germany did. That will solve all the problems between India and Pakistan and will be best for Pakistani people. But we all know that Pakistani feudals will never let that happen. Being an old man, I am thinking of what is best for people, not for rulers. The bottom line is what is best for the quality of people's lives.
Jaya kumar Dec 24, 2012 03:15pm
Everything has to move on side by side. Homeless & poor people can b found in every country including Europe & US. Indians have atleast elementary rice to eat,at a time when Z.A Bhutto agitated to eat grass if needed ,but get a bomb.. U think Pakistan doesnt think of buying weapons ? But ur bad luck ,,to buy weapons u need money
Karim Dec 24, 2012 02:04pm
Your former leader once said he would not hesitate to let you people eat grass, if only he could get the a-bomb.
Different View Dec 24, 2012 02:04pm
Don't misunderstand things. This is a perfect case of juvenile thinking. Acquiring weapons doesn't mean preparing for war. It is preparing for a situation if things go out of control. You can see the Chinese are also have huge defence budget, even though they have good relationship with all the countries in the world.
Pavas Ambashta Dec 24, 2012 02:30pm
I still remember when there was a news of Putin visiting Pakistan, some readers and even some Pakistani Newspapers (The Nation for example) were over-excited!! In place of making a strong relation with Russia they were thinking of replacing India as a strategic partner of Russia without knowing the depth of strategic relations of these two countries!!! After the 2nd World War Russia is the only country in this which have given Nuclear Submarines, currently constructing an Aircraft Carrier and has shared it's program on 5th Generation Fighter Jets to any other country (India) (USA and UK may be different examples but they belong to different league). Using Russian made RD-93 engines in JF-17 fighter jets and buying some Mil Mi-17 doesn't mean that Pakistan can replace India in Russian foreign policy. Leave friendship aside, even from a pure commercial point of view Pakistan can never replace India as a strategic partner of Russia. It has been estimated that India has to spend almost $100 Billion on different defense procurements within next 10 years. Which sane country would like to risk the opportunity of getting a share in this pie?? Deal with Russia on 5th Generation fighter jets (T-50 or PAKFA) alone may be of worth $30 Billion. All these data are just from defense sector, if one includes other areas like Space and Technology, Energy (Nuclear and Natural Gas), Infrastructure etc, total worth of Indian market is too large to be missed by any country. So, Pakistan should concentrate on building it's ties with Russia, replacing India as a strategic partner of Russia is beyond it's capacity.
Mandeep Dec 24, 2012 01:58pm
First establish peace within Pakistan, before, giving advices to others.
Raw Agent Dec 24, 2012 01:36pm
Seems you have never visited India....!!
Daniel Dec 25, 2012 08:01am
Dont worry... He is a much more educated and wise man than you... He knows what is best for India.
Ahmed Sultan (India) Dec 24, 2012 02:19pm
When any country have hostile neighbours like India has, and day war can come like it happened in Kargil. peace bus followed with war.
sharaah Dec 24, 2012 12:49pm
Instead of buying food and build homes with toilets for their 70% poor people, they are buying weapons worth of billions of dollars. Example of extreme obsession with weapons
Indian Pride Dec 24, 2012 12:36pm
Billions$$ $ worth arms yet schools have no toilet facility, slums keep on growing. It is shining India.
Shah Dec 24, 2012 12:30pm
When they speak of peace but prepare of war, then know, war is coming!
NORI Dec 24, 2012 02:25pm
India is self sufficient in food,so no need to buy them from foreign countries. Every country prioritizes the defence needs based on ground realities. India spends less on defence in South Asia, although it's surrounded by Pakistan and China. For that matter, despite struggling economy and hours of load shedding across the country, Pakistan is manufacturing more and more nuclear weapons and developing new weapons systems. Charity begins at home...
hamid Shafiq Dec 24, 2012 12:27pm
how peace happen in south east asia with heaps of weapons and corpses of dead people ???????
Rao Dec 24, 2012 04:21pm
If Pakistan invades again, we should be in a position to defend ourselves. If we can't do that then there will be more destruction, more % of poor will increase. These arms are for not getting into that situation. This is not obsession....Pakistan trying to match India is obsession.
ASingh Dec 24, 2012 04:28pm
Instead of giving these lucrative and interesting projects to other countries, they should try to develop these in-house like China. It helps not just the weapons industry but other allied industry as well and helps in building infrastructure.
Think Dec 24, 2012 04:32pm
We have to -- we have vindictive, unstable neighbors all around us
Think Dec 24, 2012 04:33pm
Arms and weapons to keep us alive-- if we are alive, we can build things needed later. Think of our neighbors out to destroy us- they force us into this arms race
Think Dec 24, 2012 04:34pm
You have to be strong- to have peace. A weak person cannot expect peace A weak country can only expect war- so we have no choice
Think Dec 24, 2012 04:35pm
Is Pakistan not preparing for war? Why do you have contracts with China? We happen to be a working democracy at least -- People in glass houses should not throw stones
Waseem Dec 24, 2012 05:12pm
These weapon purchases are more for a deterrent for China. Pakistan is a non-issue. The Pakistani army has not won a single war and has been (directly and indirectly) responsible for starting several.
AA Dec 24, 2012 05:14pm
India has hidden objectives-poverty at its top and buy more weapons
IndiaUSA Dec 24, 2012 06:12pm
For Asia's third largest economy which has grown by around 8% over past decade and with around 350 billion dollars of annual exports I think we can afford..poverty in India has been on decline..middle class is booming..we know what to do with our please worry about the state of your country.
Naveen Kumar Dec 24, 2012 06:25pm
Don't worry these are not for Pakistan. We have bigger issues.
Siyalkotia Dec 24, 2012 07:28pm
If you want peace, be prepared for war.
pankajdehlavi Dec 24, 2012 07:59pm
This deal is nowhere related to Pakistan. We have much bigger and serious challenge in front of us. Guess who ? So, no need to feel negative about this.
debasis Dec 24, 2012 08:12pm
where there is pakistan like country you cannot expect peace.
sree Dec 25, 2012 02:21am
Our lives are at stake as we live in a dangerous neighbourhood, next to a failed state.
Dev Dec 25, 2012 02:41am
India wants to become a superpower in the long run. Just have to live with that reality!
Rajesh Dec 25, 2012 03:46am
When Pakistan buys weapons it is not targeted at India. Similarly, when India buys arms it is not targeted against Pakistan. Stay peaceful.
T. Ramakrishnan Dec 25, 2012 04:28am
After reading this extraordinary, objective analysis of Indo-Russian arms deals, it is refreshing to see the specious comments of the readers. Nehru's India till 1962 had a small army and budget for armaments. And suffered defeat by China and was saved only by U.S. support and USSR's ambivalence. Later, India enjoyed USSR's support and U.S. semi-support. Now, as part of a number of strategic alliances India is close to U.S. without compromising long-standing Russian friendship. Believe it or not, it is not about Pakistan. It is an insurance policy against China. Hopefully, the ever increasing Sino-Indian trade (vital for both countries in the global recession) would prevent a shooting war. Hopefully too, India-Pakistan trade would reach similar proportions and make the resolution of other problems easy, if not moot.
Rakesh Dec 25, 2012 06:17am
Our money, our priorities, our choice!
Alex Dec 26, 2012 12:32pm
Sharaah, you can belittle India. Actually that helps us. For 60 years, thats exactly what has said about India.... please keep doing it. Why not 90% poor people..afterall you have made it till 70% anyways. The simple brainer is if 70% were in poverty, India would not have a billion dollars forget about 10 billion. Our GDP sent on military is still 2.5. It takes little intelligence to know how India can afford this if it has 70% poverty? Without taking world bank loans...So you know which country among India and Pakistan takes world bank loans. and US aid. Definitely not countries with 70% poverty. So please do not make a mockery of your own intelligence. So now who has more poverty? .
Raja Parekh Dec 27, 2012 08:14am
We Indian should stop giving advises or lecturing here in any Pakistani news papers. Not good mannerism. Of course, one can defend the actions.