New Delhi: India and Russia are expected to ink a mutual defence logistics support agreement soon with each other during the annual bilateral summit between the two countries that will take place in October or November this year, Russian Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Roman Babushkin said on Tuesday, adding that Russia has decided not to sell weapons and defence equipment to Pakistan because of Indian “sensitivities and requests”.
The senior Russian diplomat also said Russian supply of the S-400 missile defence system to India is “on schedule” but added that in case of India asking for the expediting (fast-tracking) of this, the Russian side “will do its best”.
India already has similar defence logistics support pacts with the United States, France, Singapore and Australia. New Delhi is expected to ink such a pact soon with Japan as well apart from Russia which is India’s time-tested friend and key defence supplier. Such defence logistics support pacts ensure that either country’s defence platforms including ships and aircraft being able to use the other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies including fuel and spare parts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit India in October or November for the Summit but there is also a possibility that it could take place in a Virtual format keeping in view the Covid Pandemic situation. “We are hopeful of a face to face Summit. But we should keep in mind the (Covid) Pandemic situation. We will adjust to the schedule (that is eventually decided),”Mr. Babushkin said.
While emphasising strategic cooperation with India including in the Indian Ocean region, Russia however remains uncomfortable with the four-nation “Quadrilateral” arrangement to maintain a “rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region” of which India is a part along with the US, Japan and Australia.
The Russian DCM said Russia supports any inclusive effort for cooperation in the maritime region but opposes any formation of military blocs. He said any inclusive arrangement on cooperation should be based on international laws, indicating—in a veiled criticism of long-time rival the United States---that Moscow feels the term “rules-based order” is to justify unilateral sanctions on countries and interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs.
But the senior Russian diplomat made it clear that Moscow is confident that New Delhi’s ties with other nations would never be at the expense of its ties with Russia and expressed Russia’s confidence in its “Indian friends”.
Detailing the extent of defence cooperation with India, the Russian DCM said that ongoing defence cooperation projects including for MiG-29 and Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft were being implemented”. He said the defence project between the two countries on production of AK-203 assault rifles (at Amethi in Uttar Pradesh) would be not merely a licensed production but also a “full-fledged transfer of technology”.
He also described the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile as an “exclusive weapon”.