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India Reaffirms Defence Ties with Russia
|by Dr. Subhash Kapila|
India reaffirmed its defense ties with Russia on September 29th, 2008 by extending the defense cooperation agreement which was due to expire in 2010 by another 10 years. That this reaffirmation of military cooperation with Russia took place at about the same time when hectic lobbying has been underway in the United States by India in relation to the Indo-US Nuclear Deal is significant in more ways than one. The significance is both strategic and political in relation to India's foreign policy stances.
The agreement was signed in New Delhi by the Indian Defense Minister, Mr A K Antony and the Russian Defense Minister, Mr Anatoly Serdyukov. The Indian media reports indicate that a shift has now taken place to transform the India-Russia military cooperation from one of a 'buyer-seller' relationship to one of a more predominant joint partnership in development of new generation military weapons and equipment.
The high level meeting in New Delhi also concentrated on resolving the existing differences between the two countries in the finalization and completion of existing defense orders contracts.
Strategically, the message that seems to be going out is that India is in no hurry to change the existing profiles of its military weapons inventories which are predominantly of Russian origin. Further that this profile would be reinforced by development of futuristic weapons systems with Russian technology.
Politically, the same message seems to be going out that India continues to view Russia as a valued political ally. Heightened contours can be expected to be imparted to this aspect when the new Russian President visits India in December 2008.
I have written earlier some time back that while India has embarked on evolving a strategic partnership with the United States it has not jettisoned its proven strategic partnership with Russia which is nearly half a century old. This has to be noted as an important characteristic of India's foreign policy stances.
It remains to be seen as to what reactions are evoked in Washington by India's reaffirmation of its defense ties with Russia. Currently no open reactions have surfaced from USA. However, it needs to be highlighted that Russia had not been vocal on the proximity that is coming to the fore in the strategic relations between India and the Unite States.
Finally, it needs to be recorded that India as an aspiring global power would not like to be a strategic satellite of any global power. India can be expected to strike independent stances in terms of its strategic relationships with other global powers as an equal stakeholder.
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