India - Russia Relations , Defence Diplomacy | Strange Military Stories

Defence Diplomacy of India- Russia

The defence diplomacy began between India and Russia after 1962. The defence relation has persisted over a period of time and has become the bedrock of mutual trust. More than 70 per cent of Indian defence equipment today is of Russian origin. 

These weapons have also proved their worth at a time when India needed them in conflict. During the Cold War, to save forex, the two sides have used rupee-rouble agreements, which significantly contributed in helping India save forex, India, in the 1980s, resorted to a twin policy of diversification and domestic industrial development in defence. Russia helped India with technology transfers. 

At the end of the Cold War, there was a global decline in arms trade but India and China remained top importers. The priority for India in the post-Cold War period was to ensure that it had a reliable spare parts supplier. Crisis of vast military-industrial complexes of the Soviet and their failure to sustain at the end of the Cold War led India to seek alternative routes. 

India explored the possibility of Israel and France, along with the US, acting as potential suppliers. In the first decade following the end of the Cold War saw Russia trying to consolidate its military-industrial complexes. However, one concern did remain Indian armed forces complained about problems in spare parts and issues in the maintenance of Russian equipment. Part of the blame is on Indian defence and foreign policy negotiations that failed to develop a deeper perspective on the life cycle of products. 

When they were negotiating projects, agreements on product life cycle needed to be taken care of. At times, we ended up taking some equipment that became obsolete late after a few years and its production plants also shut down, thereby making spare parts availability a huge concern. 

India - Russia Relations , Defence Diplomacy | Strange Military Stories


India Russia Relations after 2000


Russia created the Rosoboronexport in 2000, which is a state intermediary body that monopolises arms export. India raises the issue of support after sales at almost all India-Russia Intergovernmental Commissions on Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) and this platform helps us to resolve our issues. Despite certain concerns, India continues to have robust defence cooperation with Russia as the arms have proved their mettle and majority of our arms are of Soviet origins, which have come to be well accepted in the Indian military circles. 

Since 2007, the two are working on developing a fifth-generation combat aircraft. The MiG-35 has had India embark upon a mega defence modernisation programme. The offset clause invoked under our defence procurement policy would now warrant more Russian as distance, and Russia has not shied away from helping India develop Indian military-industrial complex. Russia and India continue to have bilateral exercises and Russia continues to support us for supplies of multirole transport aircraft, combat aircraft, including an aircraft carrier admiral Gorchakov, inducted in the Indian navy in November 2013 as INS Vikramaditya.

Russia and India will continue to have joint development of weapons and continue to interact through institutionalised mechanisms of cooperation. India is undertaking domestic production of BrahMos missile, T-90 tank and Sukhoi aircraft, Indian reliance on Russia will not decrease despite diversification and delays in projects because Russia remains committed to defence technology transfer, which India feels it needs for the development of its domestic defence industry. Russia, similarly, will not reduce its dependence on India as India acts as the biggest testing ground for Russian weaponry. As China goes on to supply arms to developing nations in future, it will try to undercut the Russian influence, thus necessitating Russia to stay with India so as to be able to use India as a springboard to other developing markets despite an Indian tilt to the US.

Thus, both use defence cooperation to enhance their overall diplomatic engagement. Russians also continue to provide economic aid and cooperate with India on a case-to-case basis and Russia continues to deepen their its defence engagement through the bilateral arms trade.

India and Russia in 2019 have signed a USD 3 billion deal where Russia will refurbish and supply an Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (Chakra 3) to India. In the last 6 months of 2018, India and Russia have signed USD 10 billion worth deals that include S-400 (signed in 2018) and a joint venture to produce AK-203 rifles in Amethi (signed in 2019). The fact that most of the deals with Russia are being micromanaged by the PMO in India signifies the strategic intent.


India Russian jointly produce AK-203/103 rifles at Amethi


The AK-203 is a modernized 200 series AK-103 variant. The Indian government signed an agreement with Russia in 2019 to manufacture the AK-103 rifles for the Indian Army. Russia will manufacture the AK-103 in India. Even though Russia had sent the proposal for AK-103 to India in 2018, the deal could not be finalised because the requirement of the army was not fulfilled in the Russian proposal. In 2019, the army announced a new proposal. 

The army wanted to purchase 7.62 calibre assault rifles along with an import of a small bag of 'hi-tech rifles' for frontline troops on the border. The hi-tech rifles can be imported and the rest can be manufactured in India. The AK-103 is to be manufactured domestically and would be used for hinterland and counterinsurgency operations (with a preferred calibre of 5.56 mm and a 500 m range).
ak 203 / ak 103 rifle india russia contrct
The army will also use AK-103 for paramilitary forces and also export in the long run. As per the agreement, Russia will set up a Kalashnikov factory in collaboration with Ordnance Factory Board in India and cater to rifle manufacturing for the needs of the army.

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