India and Russia ink 10-yr pact on defence tech, deal on AK rifles | India News

NEW DELHI: India and Russia on Monday inked a new expansive 10-year pact on military-technical cooperation as well as the deal for AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles, even as defence minister Rajnath Singh raised China’s “completely unprovoked aggression” in eastern Ladakh while seeking greater partnership with Moscow across all domains.
Singh’s blunt statement came in the backdrop of the deepening partnership between Russia and China, which has also seen Beijing emerge as one of Moscow’s top clients in terms of arms imports.
“The pandemic, the extra-ordinary militarisation and expansion of armaments in our neighbourhood and the completely unprovoked aggression on our northern border since early summer of 2020 have thrown in several challenges,” the minister said during the inaugural two-plus-two dialogue with Russia.
While noting that New Delhi was confident of overcoming these challenges, Singh said, “Recognising that its development needs are colossal and that its defence challenges are legitimate, real and immediate, India seeks partners who are sensitive and responsive to India’s expectations and requirements.”
Expressing hope that Russia will remain “a major partner” for India in these changing circumstances, he called for greater military-technical collaboration, advanced research, co-development and co-production of defence equipment, which can lead to self-reliance in defence production in India. “Separately, we proposed greater engagements in central Asia and the Indian Ocean region,” he said.
Preceding the two-plus-two dialogue, the 20th meeting of India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) was held between the delegations led by Singh and his counterpart General Sergey Shoigu. The agreement on the programme for military-technical cooperation from 2021-2031 was inked during the meeting.
Another clear takeaway was the Rs 5,124 crore contract for procurement of 6,01,427 AK-203 assault rifles through the joint venture called Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited. Among the other deals in the pipeline is the $1.5 billion one for the IGLA-S very-short range air defence missile systems (VSHORADS). The deal will involve an initial off-the-shelf purchase of the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile systems followed by technology transfer to Bharat Dynamics for subsequent production.

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