Rajnath Singh's Moscow visit will impart new thrust to India-Russia relations
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit, which is the second since June, assumes high significance as it will lead to further strengthening of India-Russia defence cooperation.
As Cabinet Minister Rajnath Singh prepares for his two-day visit to Russia this week to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Minister’s meet, India is faced with situation on the border where China has not only shown its unwillingness to withdraw from some of points in Eastern Ladakh but also has unsuccessfully tried to change status quo on the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso Lake.
Though there is no official word whether Rajnath Singh will raise the issue at the forthcoming SCO Defence Ministers’ meet but the visit, which is the second since June, assumes high significance as it will lead to further strengthening of India-Russia defence cooperation.
Under an intergovernmental agreement with Russia, India wants to manufacture spare parts of Russian equipment supplied to India. Then the talks are going on between India and Russia for the production and supply of Igla S Anti Air Missile. Both sides are also hoping to expedite the joint production of 7.6 mm Kalashnikov assault rifle. As for the production of Kamov Ka-226 helicopters in India, both India and Russia are finalizing some technical details before final agreement is signed for this helicopters’ manufacture.
India has already signed a deal with Russia for locally manufacture of two stealth frigates but it wants more for its navy. These frigates are expected to be armed with the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles and other weaponry systems, including sensors.
As for the S-400 Triumf air defence system, Russia is scheduled to deliver the ‘game changer’ defence platform that is capable of destroying incoming hostile missiles, aircraft and drones within a range of up to 400 km, by the end of 2021.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s forthcoming Russia visit, as per sources, is expected to give a boost to defence acquisition process at the time when there is a sudden increase in China’s deployment of surface-to-air missile system at new locations in Tibet along the India frontier. Satellite images show Chinese missile sites have come in areas bordering Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Ladakh.
Close on the heels of Rajnath Singh’s visit, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will also visit Moscow to attend SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting, people familiar with the development said on the condition of anonymity. However, this is yet to be officially announced. When asked about this matter, Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson Anurag Srivastava confirmed that the EAM has received an invitation for the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting.