Assuring Russia that it will remain India’s “principal partner” in defense sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the two strategic partners are working together for joint manufacture of advanced defence equipment in India under the Make in India initiative.
“Russia has been India’s foremost defense partner through decades, accounting for a majority of our defense equipment… Even in the current environment, despite India’s improved access to the world market, Russia remains our principal partner,” Modi told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.
Noting that Russia provided defense equipment to India and international support when few were willing to hold its hands, Modi said, “Indians will never forget the Russian support that we got when we needed it the most.”
India and Russia are likely to ink a number of pacts in a range of sectors including defense and nuclear energy during Modi’s two-day visit to Russia beginning Wednesday for the annual Summit-level talks with President Vladimir Putin.
Asserting that the Indo-Russia defense ties have been transformed “from a buyer-seller relationship to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced systems” such as the BrahMos missile, Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft and T-90 tanks, Modi said Russia has the potential to be the leading partner in the Make in India mission in defense sector.
“We are soon going to make a beginning in that direction,” he said.
“We are also working together for joint manufacture of defense equipment and components in India under the Make in India initiative,” he added.
India’s assurance to Russia comes at a time when it has developed a closer defense ties with the U.S. and Russia made overtures to Pakistan in recent months for the first time.
On the civil nuclear cooperation, Modi said India is committed to construct at least 12 nuclear power plants having highest safety standards in the world with Russian assistance.
“Energy security is critical to India’s economic development and Russia is a key partner in this area. Nuclear energy is an important component of our energy security strategy. Russia is currently our leading international partner. Our cooperation with Russia in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy is a cornerstone of our strategic partnership,” he said replying to a question.
The Prime Minister said the strengths of Russia in science and technology, military technology and nuclear energy among others complement the large market of India, expanding economy and demand of its young population.
“This provides us with the confidence that we can take forward our existing dynamic partnership,” he added.
On economic ties, he said there is potential to further strengthen the Indo-Russia relations in the field of trade and investments.
“Our bilateral trade, though growing, has not achieved its full potential. We have committed to increase this to $30 billion by 2025. Similarly, we are committed to increase our investments to $15 billion each by 2025,” he said.