MOSCOW: Amid the deepening Moscow chill, India and Russia reignited their time-tested partnership, and the warmth between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin was all too visible, with Moscow giving a big push to Make in India project of national renewal.
Dispelling any notion of a drift in this special relationship, India and Russia signed 16 pacts across the spectrum, with Moscow emerging as New Delhi’s prime partner in indigenising civil nuclear and defence sectors. The two landmark agreements on Russia assisting in building 12 nuclear reactors in India and joint manufacture of 200 Kamov 226 helicopters under the Make in India programme have laid down a solid basis for transforming special and privileged partnership in years to come. The significance of these pacts is clear from the fact that Russia will be the first country to be involved in major Make in India projects in nuclear and defence sectors.
“The Inter-Governmental Agreement on the manufacture of Kamov-226 helicopters in India is the first project for a major defence platform under the Make-in-India mission. It is, rightly, with our most important defence partner,” Mr Modi said after wide-ranging talks with Mr Putin in Moscow on December 24.
With the latest pact, Russia is poised to be the biggest player in India’s burgeoning nuclear energy sector. “The pace of our cooperation in nuclear energy is increasing. We are making progress on our plans for 12 Russian nuclear reactors at two sites. The agreement today will increase Indian manufacturing content in these reactors. It supports my mission of Make in India. I thank President Putin for his support,” said Mr Modi.
Russia-built Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP-I) is already operational in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and Unit II of KNPP will be commissioned within weeks.
The new defence pacts should end speculation about India-Russia defence ties stagnating amid New Delhi’s growing defence relationship with Washington, Moscow’s arch rival. In fact, the planned joint manufacturing of Kamov helicopters underline the new template of co-production and co-development which will frame the new phase of India-Russia defence partnership.
“The sides took note of achievements in the field of joint design, development and production of high-technology military equipment. Both sides reaffirmed their intention to expand the scope of such cooperation and to avail of the opportunities provided by the Make in India initiative in the defence sector and directed the concerned agencies to finalise such projects between relevant entities and enterprises of the two countries at the earliest,” said the joint statement.
President Putin also underscored Russia’s “strong support” to India’s bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, saying it is a “deserving and strong candidate that can bring an independent and responsible approach” within the global body.
Prime Minister Modi has a lot to be satisfied with his two-day visit to Moscow which has reenergised multi-faceted relationship that has and will remain pivotal to the larger project of national reconstruction.
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