Russia, India reach ‘unprecedented’ military agreements

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has held “intensive discussions” with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi, where they reached an “unprecedented” level of military and technical cooperation, despite increasing pressure from the United States.

Shoigu discussed deepening defense ties and joint manufacturing projects with Nirmala Sitharaman at the 18th India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) in the Indian capital on Thursday. “Intensive discussions were held on joint manufacturing projects, including the Kamov-226 helicopters, naval frigates and projects related to land systems,” said a Russian Defense Ministry statement. “The intensity and the depth of military and technical cooperation speak about the unprecedented level of trust between our countries,” Shoigu said at a meeting with Sitharaman. He said he was confident that “no other state cooperates with India in the sphere of the transfer of armament and military hardware production technologies as close as Russia.”

“Our cooperation spreads to the most sensitive spheres,” Shoigu said, citing formerly signed contracts for the delivery of five S-400 Triumph defense systems and Project 11356 frigates. “We are ready for further cooperation in the military and military-technical spheres on a planned and long-term basis,” he said. In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a two-day visit to India, where he signed a deal with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi worth $5 billion over the purchase of an air defense system and also agreed to jointly develop six nuclear power plants. India has received warnings from Washington about buying Russian arms. Under its current rules against Moscow, Washington could impose sanctions on third-party countries should they transact with Russian defense or intelligence sectors.

India has approved a plan to buy five S-400 Triumph defense systems from Russia, despite US pressure. A former financial adviser on defense acquisition for India’s Defense Ministry, Amit Cowshish, however, said at the time that “there is no reason for India to buckle under the US pressure to roll back procurement of hardware from Russia.”

The Russian-built S-400 is capable of intercepting and destroying airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) and simultaneously engage up to six targets.

 Russia will deliver the first missile system by the end of 2020.In the meantime, India was holding simultaneous joint military exercises with both the US and Russia in the eastern and western sectors of the country respectively. The Indian military kick-started its drill with Russian forces at its western air base in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, on Monday and will continue till December 21. The Indian Air Force confirmed that the joint exercise with Russia primarily focuses on counterterrorism operations. The military exercise with the US Air Force started on December 3 at Kalaikunda, West Bengal, and will conclude on Friday.

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