Defence deals on agenda as Modi heads to Russia on December 23

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Old 21-Dec-2015
Post Defence deals on agenda as Modi heads to Russia on December 23

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay his first state visit to Russia on December 23-24. Though the dates are yet to be officially announced, sources say Modi will head to Russia next week. The visit is likely to see major agreements in the defence sector and further Russian commitment to invest in India.
Russian Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin paid a one-day visit to New Delhi on December 8 to lay the groundwork for Modi’s visit. Russia has been reeling under sanctions imposed by western nations in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis. The recent shooting down of a Russian plane by Turkey has further strained ties in the region with Russia now looking to expand economic ties with other nations.
In an interview to Tass, Rogozin said that Russia was looking to India to fill the vacuum. He further said that India-Russia relations now needed to move beyond the military arena. “Previously, it could seem that we were focused on military-technological cooperation. It is no longer so. We need India as a major trade and economic partner in the first place in conditions when we can no longer maintain economic interaction with partners like Turkey because they have, indeed, been treacherous and cunning and have committed something, which is going to throw our relations far back,” Rogozin said.
Sources said that talks were on with Russia to lease another nuclear submarine to India in December during Modi’s visit. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who visited Russia a little more than a month back, held discussions on the subject with Russia.
In 2012, India had leased a 12,000-tonne Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, the INS Chakra, for a 10-year period for $900 million. Even at that time, then Defence Minister AK Antony had confirmed that negotiations were under way for a second nuclear submarine. The final announcement on the leasing of a second submarine might be made during the PM’s visit.
The last summit meeting between Modi and Russian President Vladmir Putin was held here in January. The two leaders had then discussed the possibility of Russian helicopters being awarded a contract for building 197 Kamov-226T reconnaissance and observation helicopters in India. To sweeten the deal for India, Russia has suggested that this will be built under the “Make in India” initiative.
The Indian partner is yet to be decided and could either be Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) or Reliance Defence.

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