Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV) Discussion: India - Russia Defence Ties

By Hemant Kumar|Updated : June 30th, 2020

Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture:  India - Russia Defence Ties


  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was in Moscow on a 3-day visit at the Russian Ministry of Defence's invitation to attend the 75th Anniversary of Victory Day Parade
  • It was the first foreign visit from India of an official delegation after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • India and Russia share a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership." Russia is one of India's key suppliers of arms and ammunition.

Key takeaways of the Rajnath Singh visit to Russia

  • Defence Minister was hopeful of the timely delivery of the S-400 missiles.
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he is fully satisfied indicating the issue of speed up the availability of the spares for the existing Sukhoi and MiG fleets
  • Moscow was to begin the delivery of the system by the second half of next year.

Background of India-Russia Defence ties

  • India and Russia share a harmonious relationship. Defence cooperation is one of the important pillars of the India-Russia partnership.
  • It is guided by the Programme for Military-Technical Cooperation signed between India and Russia, which is valid at present till 2020.
  • It shows the interest of the two governments to further develop and improve the military and technical cooperation in the sphere of research and development, production, and after-sales support of armament systems and various military equipment.

Strategic Importance of Russia to India

Russia is important to India not only in defence terms but also in the other terms such as economic or political. In terms of defence partnerships: 

  • Bilateral projects currently underway include indigenous production of T-90 tanks and Su-30-MKI aircraft, the supply of MiG-29-K aircraft and Kamov-31 and Mi-17 helicopters, upgrade of MiG-29 aircraft and supply of Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher Smerch
  • Nuclear Submarine: India signed a contract with Russia for the lease of an Akula-1 class nuclear-powered submarine for ten years
  • Nuclear program: Russia also acts as a partner in developing nuclear power plants. Russia supplies fuel to India's oldest nuclear power plant in Tarapur
  • Air force training: Russia provides training to four cosmonauts shortlisted for Gaganyaan, India’s first manned space mission
  • Exercise: India and Russia conduct Joint tri-service exercise called INDRA

Is India inclined to the US in terms of Defence procurement?

  • The answer is No. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India is still dependent on Russia for 58% of its imports.
  • Along with this, India also imports hydrocarbons from Russia. India and Russia may expand their energy partnership by increasing crude oil imports from Russia and cooking oil imports for the Indian Steel industry's requirement.

Russia inclination to China

  • As per some experts, China is inclined to Russia. However, the Russian situation is the same as that of India.
  • Due to an increase in tensions between the US and China and Russia's old rivalry with the US. Russia is in good terms with China
  • Similarly, due to the rise in India-China tensions and US-China issues, India is in good terms with the USA.
  • However, in the current multipolar world, no country chooses a permanent friend or enemy.

Issues in the India-Russia defence ties

  • Increase in procurement prices: Increase in the procurement price mainly due to the multiple taxes, customs duty, excise duty, increase in the cost of the raw material
  • Issue with spare parts and with maintenance: It has been a long-standing grievance of forces that critical spares and equipment supplies from Russia take much long time affecting maintenance of military systems procured from that country

Way forward

  • To reduce the procurement cost, easy availability of spare parts and better maintenance, India must invite Russian companies to invest in India and manufacture in India and send products locally (Integration of Make in India with Russian investors)
  • More military exercises to be conducted at lower levels with more frequency. as it will help in deepening our ties.

 To Read India-Russia Relations Click Here

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