An Idc Analysis


New Delhi, 05 Sep 2001

A Second Honeymoon In The Making?

India's close economic, political and military relationship with Russia since Independence in 1947 is historical and time tested, even though (as in a marriage) there are differences, the bonds now seem stronger than ever. The base as in the past is the weighty defence relationship. PM Vajpayee is slated to go to Moscow in November to consolidate matters. Shri S K Lambah, the former Ambassador is now an Adviser in the MEA and Shri Raghunath, former Foreign Secretary and a diplomat par excellence, is in postion there and both understand the game to be played. 

Defence Deals

The way Indian bureaucracy works, the Strategic Pact that Putin signed in India last year will be strengthened and there will be further impetus to the major defence deals, which are now worth over US$ 6 billion. These include the SU 30s (supply of 50 and manufacture of 150), three hundred T90 Tanks, three Krivack Frigates, six AEW Kamov 31-S Helicopters, Aircraft Carrier Gorshkov, MIG 29s, IL76 Aerial Tankers, MIG MAPO upgrade of 123 MIG 21s at HAL, AEW IL 78 with Israeli Phalcon system, (which USA is likely to release and supply), and manufacture of 25 batteries of S 300 (SA 2500) SAM missiles. Besides the supply of weapons, steel and other equipment for the Type 17 Frigates at Mazagon Docks and the ATV project and upgrade of the MIG 27s and 29s are also defence related programmes. The supply of a nuclear submarine for training of the crews of India’s technology demonstrator ATV is also on the cards. India's Armed Forces especially the Navy and the Air Force are dependent on Russia for over 75% of their imported hardware. Hence the world was not surprised when President Putin soon after taking over made India his first major country visit, to sign a historic Strategic Pact on 3 Oct 2000.

India's arms purchases, which ensure that the Russian arms industry is kept in employment, is in keeping with India's long term interests and international political compulsions. Post Pokhran II nuclear blasts in 1998 and the Kargil war in 1999, the purse strings have been opened for India's armed forces. Though the Tehelka scam has slowed decisions for equipment from the West, like the 66 AJTs, the Russain deals so far are not affected even if there could be some commission taking. This, of course is a world wide accepted practice about which IDC has written extensively.

Strategic Pact

The present historic pact has a deep background. In 1971, after the influx of refugees from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), the late PM Indira Gandhi had been snubbed by the West. Her appeal was directed to Nixon, particularly with a request to stop USA's arms aid to Pakistan. Failing to elicit an appropriate response and on learning that Henry Kissinger secretly visited Peking via Rawalpindi in early July 1971, to arrange Nixon's visit to China, Mrs.Gandhi suspected that a Washington-Islamabad-Peking axis was in the offing. She was contemplating military action and lost no time in signing on 9 August 1971 the 20-year Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty with Moscow, which included steps for co-operation, peace and collaboration. Clause 9 of of this treaty reads as follows and has military undertones and support against China:

"In the event of an attack or a threat thereof the two (India and USSR) would immediately enter into mutual consultations in order to remove such threat and to take appropriate effective measures to ensure the peace and security of their countries".

On expiry of this treaty, a modified version was signed in Yeltsin’s time and Russia was made to consult with USA for its support to India on dual technology items, supply of uranium for nuclear power plants and cryogenic engines for its space programme, though criticism was avoided by Russia when India conducted nuclear blasts in 1998. The cryogenic engines were supplied. But more recently Russia's security environment and military industrial complex have undergone fundamental changes and now they see India’s strengths in IT and software. India too has seen how badly it has reeled under US sanctions. The Brahmos missile is an example of cooperation between DRDO and MASH NPO to produce a state-of-the-art missile that cannot be intercepted.

Russian Compulsions

These actions along with support to China and Iran for defence supplies, reflect the evolution of Russia's strategic thought, which is no more defensive in response to the changing geopolitical balances in the world. In the new security concept, the revival and survival of the military industrial complex along Western lines and a thrust for export of military hardware to China, India, Iran, Malaysia, North Korea and other countries is a priority.

This has been prompted by a disillusionment with the West. Russia's own economic woes and the subservient attitude of Russia to the West by Yeltsin, is not acceptable to Putin. Putin has exhibited boldness and turned a new leaf to revive Russia’s economy. Signs of revival are in the air and in the long term India will gain from this. Putin has recently advised USA to reconsider the National Missile Defence plan whilst cautioning Europe on the expansive ways of NATO. Putin has made it amply clear that Russia prefers a multi-polar world and that Russia aims to be one of the influential poles.

It is in this light that one must view the documents of the INDO–RUSSIAN STRATEGIC PACT AND AGREEMENTS. They signify a firm and long term commitment to work in close cooperation as partners on all issues including political, security and economic. Agreements include matters of mutual security, secrecy of defence materials and documents, and collaboration in combating terrorism. There is accent on cooperation in atomic energy and on mega nuclear power projects with a life long assurance to supply uranium, which could come into conflict with the Nuclear Supplier's Group, unless India is admitted to the nuclear club.

India needs uranium for its power plants and for its nuclear submarine (ATV) project. The Russian President was also the first foreign dignitary to visit BARC with Atomic Energy Minister E Adamov. Whilst touring India's nuclear weapon repository at Mumbai he made many inquiries. 

Present Strategic Pact

Some of the salient features of the strategic agreement are given below:

  • There would be annual summit-level meetings and joint initiatives on key international and regional issues. This could add clout and support to India on its position on many WTO and international issues.

  • Non-participation of the contracting parties in any military-political or other alliances or armed conflict directed against the other side.

  • Co-operation in the fight against international terrorism, separatism, organized crime and trafficking in narcotics.

  • Deeper and diversified co-operation in sectors such as metallurgy, fuel and energy, information technology and communications.

  • Defence and military-technical co-operation with a long-term perspective thus deepening service-to-service co-operation. It also provides for fast track decisions between Defence Minister of India and Vice Premier of Russia. Co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and outer space exploration was also included.

It was clearly stated that the strategic partnership is not directed against any other State or group of States, and does not seek to create a military-political alliance, but these in diplomacy are semantics. Many in India have called this the second honeymoon. Analysts opined that with US sanctions still in place and UK denying technologies which have US patents, and the offered French military wares proving prohibitively expensive, Russia still remains the best bet, even if its military industrial complex has been going through some turmoil. Others claim that Indian bureaucrats and politicians are unable to negotiate deals with the West and Russia is an ideal and easy route for defence deals with hidden benefits.

Conclusion and IDC Analysis

The visit of President Putin to India in October 2000 came about after determined pressure on India because of sanctions for mutual benefit and clever thinking by India’s NSA Brajesh Mishra. A lot of spadework done by many delegations and officials prior to his arrival sealed the paper work. The strategic pact that he signed with Prime Minister Vajpayee and the agreements that were concluded heralded a new chapter in Indo-Russian relations, which once again as in the past seem recemented with the supply of defence equipment.

Now if reports are correct that the Russian economy is back on a growth path and India is flush with FFE of US$ 45 billion as compared to Russia’s 23, then PM Vajpayee’s visit will be very important. It comes in the wake of Jiang Zemin’s visit to Russia when he cemented a Sino Russian strategic pact too and is also based on defence deals which will bail out Russia’s military industrial complex and provide continued employment. If Russia’s mindset of deep seated communism, can also be changed by Putin then India has done well.

In conclusion IDC places below links to various Russian Military, Technical and News sites, which provide a plethora of information about the goings on in that vast nation:

Official sites:

1. "RosOboronExport Ltd." ("Russian Defence Export Ltd.") –– state run company for the exports of armaments: www.rusarm.ru

2. IAPO –– IRKUTSK AVIATION INDUSTRIAL ASSOCIATION –– The exclusive partner of HAL in the joint production of SU-30 MK I jet fighters: http://eng.irkut.ru

3. Aircraft building corporation "MiG": http://www.migavia.ru/

4. Combat helicopter manufacturer "KAMOV": http://www.kamov.ru/index1.htm

5. "MIL" helicopters Kazan factory –– Supplier of Mi-17 famous combat helicopters to India: http://www.kazanhelicopters.com/

6. "MIL" helicopters Moscow factory –– Supplier of Mi-24, Mi-35 and Mi-28 (new model), combat helicopters to the Indian armed forces:


6."Air Defence Systems" –– Interstate Industrial Group for production of anti-ballistic missile and air defence systems (Russia and Belarus): http://www.defensys.ru/about_eng.html

7. Baltiysky Shipyard –– Manufacturer of "Talwar" class frigates for the Indian Navy: http://www.bz.ru/

8. "Rubin Naval systems" - Designer of "Kilo"/"Sindhushastra" and "Amur" class diesel-electric submarines as well as nuclear-powered subs: http://www.ckb-rubin.com/main.html

9. Kurganky machine building plant –– Co-producer of BMP-3 in cooperation with Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory http://www.kurganmash.ru/

10. Arzamas machine building plant –– Manufacturer of BTR-80 and BTR-90 armored personnel carriers: http://www.amz.nnov.ru/index_en.html

11. Rubtsovsk machine building plant –– APCs manufacturer: http://rmz.rubtsovsk.ru/

12. Federal Agency of control systems in defence electronics and military telecoms:



1. Military News Agency - Daily online edition with the latest military, defence and armed conflicts news and analisys from all over the world:


2. "Military parade" –– Superb illustrated corporate magazine of Russian defence industries:


3. Avia.ru –– The best on-line daily news bulletin on the Russian military and civil aviation: http://www.avia.ru/english/

Other recommended (amateur) sites:

1. Russian armed forces and militray-industrial complex links catalogue:


2. The best military aviation amateur site: http://www.aeronautics.ru/

3. Kalashnikov assault rifles amatuer site: http://kalashnikov.guns.ru/

4. Small arms amateur site: http://www.guns.ru/

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