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Surya Gangadharan
Thursday , October 11, 2012 at 12 : 56

Indo-Russian military relationship set to flourish in spite of Gorshkov delay


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With less than a month to go for Russia's President Vladimir Putin's visit to Delhi, the two sides appear to have "stabilised" the military relationship during talks between defence minister AK Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdykov. Sources indicate that while India's unhappiness over the delays in handover of the aircraft carrier Gorshkov has been clearly conveyed, there's also a willingness to look beyond that.

The Indian attitude in large part was driven by the Russians acknowledging problems at their end and apparently not demanding more money for rectifying defects on the ship. There are unconfirmed reports the Russians have offered to bear the expense of Indian naval personnel who will now be required to extend their stay in Russia by another year to assist on the Gorshkov. That could also be a reason why India did not invoke the penalty clause in the Gorshkov contract.

Sources tell CNN-IBN that the Russians believe they have to adjust to the new realities in India where they will have to increasingly compete against other countries to sell equipment and technology. The Russians expect that if President Barack Obama returns for a second term to the White House, he will lift some of the restrictions on the transfer of high tech or dual use technologies to India. There are also hints of changes in US laws to get over Indian suspicions of Washington's reliability as an arms supplier in the event of a conflict. In other words, the arms embargos/sanctions the US has applied (even against some of its closest allies) could become history.

India is also keen to ensure that a "time-tested" relationship doesn't go down the tube. As Indian officials say, the Russians give India technologies and equipment that no other country will. The nuclear-powered attack submarine Chakra is only one, the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile another with a hypersonic variant now in the works. It's likely that India will be allowed to access the military signals of Russia's GLONASS satellite navigation system.

This explains the continued investment in Russia. More Su-30MKIs and Mi-17V5 helicopters are being acquired. India now seems fully committed to the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project with both sides expected to chip in with $5.5 billion. India may prefer to give the money in instalments to ensure "good behaviour" by the Russians but may not be able to hold back if the Russians deposit their share into the account.

Whatever other issues remain are expected to be sorted out at the highest political level when President Putin visits on November 1.


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More about Surya Gangadharan

Surya Gangadharan is International Affairs Editor at CNN IBN and was in Egypt to cover the anti-government movement. He has covered wars in Afghanistan, the UN intervention in Somalia and Rwanda, elections in Pakistan and the civil conflict in Sri Lanka where he interviewed the top leadership of that time. He has worked for the Straits Times Group in Singapore and also for PTI, the Indian Express and India Today in India.
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