Russia and India sign $1.6bn weapons deal

Russia and India sign $1.6bn weapons deal
Vladimir Putin

Russia and India signed weapons deals worth billions of dollars today as president Vladimir Putin sought to further boost ties with an old ally.

Mr Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed co-operation between their countries as officials signed a $1.6bn (€1.21) deal for 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets that will be license-built in India from Russian components and a $1.3bn (€985.66m) contract for the delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters.

"We agreed to further strengthen the traditions of close co-operation in the military and technical areas," Mr Putin said after the signing in New Delhi.

Mr 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," Mr Singh told reporters after the talks.

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 Mr Putin came to power in 2000, seeking to revive Moscow's global clout and restore ties with old allies.

While the volume of Russian-Indian trade has risen sixfold since 2000 and is expected to reach $10bn (€7.6m) this year, the growth has slowed in recent years.

And even though India remains the number one customer for Russia's arms industries, Moscow has recently lost several multibillion-dollar contracts to Western weapons makers.

Russia has maintained its strong positions in the Indian market with $30bn (€22.75bn) 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 co-operated 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 co-operation has hit snags in recent years, as New Delhi shops increasingly for Western weapons. The Indians have also not always been happy with the quality of Russian weapons and their rising prices.

In one notable example, in 2004 Russia signed a $1bn (€758.20m) 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 $2.3bn (€1.74bn).

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 at 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 has recently 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 $11bn (€8.34bn) to France's Dassault Rafale. And last month, Boeing won India's order for a batch of heavy-lift helicopters worth $1.4bn (€1.06bn).

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

As part of its co-operation with India, Russia has also 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.

The head of the Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, told reporters that the reactors in Kudankulam are the safest in the world, adding that studies have shown that they would have withstood a disaster such as an earthquake and tsunami that caused multiple meltdowns and radiation leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan last year. Mr Kiriyenko said Rosatom plans to build more reactors in India.

Mr 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. Mr Putin resumed active travel earlier this month, making several foreign trips.

More in this Section

British woman swept away by Storm Dennis floodwater is found deadBritish woman swept away by Storm Dennis floodwater is found dead

Assad predicts total victory after gains in northern SyriaAssad predicts total victory after gains in northern Syria

Leaked data shows China’s Uighurs detained due to religionLeaked data shows China’s Uighurs detained due to religion

Extinction Rebellion digs up Cambridge college lawn in environmental protestExtinction Rebellion digs up Cambridge college lawn in environmental protest


Lifestyle

Setting sail to travel the world as part of your job has a romance all of its own but for marketing manager Máire Cronin and engineer Mark Crowe it led to love.Wedding of the Week: Cruise ship co-workers Máire and Mark sail off into sunset

One of the genres that has seen exponential growth in the podcast world is the sleepcast. Open Spotify on your phone in the evening and a number of offerings are available, writes Eoghan O'SullivanThe Podcast Corner: podcasts that will put you to sleep

Cutting-edge animation was paired with the look of an old-fashioned family film for Call Of The Wild, writes Esther McCarthyCall of the Wild: CGI dogs have their day in new Disney adventure

A new exhibition recalls the late entertainer Thom McGinty, writes Richard Fitzpatrick.Remembering The Diceman: street performer and social activist

More From The Irish Examiner