Policy

India, Russia sign pact for joint production of six lakh AK-203 assault rifles in Amethi

Our Bureau | | | Updated on: Dec 06, 2021
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Singh refers to “unprovoked aggression” on northern border without naming China; hopes for continued military partnership with Russia

India and Russia have signed a number of military-technical agreements, including a major one on joint production of about six lakh AK-203 assault rifles at a manufacturing facility in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi, in a meeting between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu on Monday.

Alluding to the growing military threat from China to the country, Singh expressed hopes that Russia will remain a major partner in the current challenging circumstances faced by India, especially due to the “unprovoked aggression” on its northern border since early summer of 2020.

Other agreements signed at the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation include ones on amending the agreement on cooperation in the field of manufacturing of the Kalashnikov series of small arms and on the protocol of the 20th IRIGC-M&MTC, sources said.

Cost

The AK-203 rifles to be manufactured for the Indian forces as part of a military cooperation arrangement for ten years are expected to cost around Rs 5,000 crore, sources added.

The S-400 advanced missile systems, that are reportedly now being deployed to India, is also one of the key focus areas in the India-Russia talks. The S-400 deal, estimated at about ₹35,000 crore, was signed between the two countries in 2018 and was the cause of some tension between India and the US.

Shoigu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also participated in the first ever 2+2 Dialogue between India and Russia, along with their Indian counterparts Singh and S Jaishankar, on Monday. The two Russian Ministers have accompanied Russian President Vladimir Putin who was invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to India to participate in the India-Russia summit.

“I have had the opportunity to discuss in detail the emerging challenges India is confronted with and the enhanced requirement of India for closer military and military-technical cooperation with Russia. The pandemic, the extraordinary expansion of armaments in the neighborhood and the unprovoked aggression on our northern border since early summer of 2020 have thrown several challenges,” Singh said speaking at the opening session of the 2+2 Dialogue. Singh, however, refrained from naming China directly.

Tensions with China

With China not showing any signs of ending the border stand-off with India in Ladakh and reports of the country upgrading its military infrastructure along the LAC (line of actual control) continuously pouring in, New Delhi is eager for all possible co-operation with friendly countries.

India’s defence challenges are legitimate, real and immediate and it seeks partners who are sensitive and responsive to India’s expectations and requirements, Singh said.

Speaking at the dialogue, Shoigu pointed out that he and Singh have had detailed discussion on defence co-operation and made plans for the future. “I am confident that agencies in both countries would contribute to increase regional peace and co-operation,” he said.

Jaishankar, in his opening speech, stated that India-Russia ties are close and are time-tested and, in the world that has changed so much, have been exceptionally steady.

The Covid-19 pandemic has raised questions on the current model of global affairs, the Minister said, adding that the long-standing challenges remained even as new ones emerged. “Prominent among them are terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation. The situation in Afghanistan has wider repercussions including Central Asia....,” Jaishankar said.

The Russian Foreign Minister said that India and Russia advocated similar or identical positions on the most important political and military issues. “We speak in favour of international law reinforcing the collective principle of international affairs. We follow the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs of all countries,” he said.

Published on December 06, 2021

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