Russian Deputy PM likely to face some tough questions
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is likely to face some tough questions over Moscow’s decision to sell Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan when he meets Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday for the first high-ranking engagement between the two countries since the NDA government took office.
Earlier this month, Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif confirmed to reporters that Islamabad was negotiating with Moscow for the Mi-35s and Russia’s Ambassador to Pakistan said he was hopeful of a deal “being finalised soon.” Official sources told The Hindu that given Mr. Rogozin’s categorical denial of selling lethal weaponry to Pakistan when he visited India in the past, “the issue is certain to figure when the Ministers meet.”
Mr. Rogozin, who is also Russian Deputy Chairman of the Government, is a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin as well as the point person for bilateral relations with India. He will be meeting Ms. Swaraj on Wednesday morning followed by delegation-level talks on all bilateral issues including trade, security, defence, nuclear energy and space cooperation. However, the visit is an unscheduled one to engage with the new government, given that Mr. Rogozin visited only in February this year. He will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
In April, India and Russia signed a General Framework Agreement for Kudankulam nuclear reactor Units 3 and 4, ending months of wrangling over India’s suppliers’ liability clause under the nuclear law. Units 1 and 2, built with Russian assistance, are both likely to be fully operational this year, with Unit 1 already achieving 100 per cent capacity of 1,000 MWe.
Sources said Mr. Rogozin and the Indian leadership would discuss the takeover of Iraqi cities by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), given India’s and Russia’s “interests in Iraq as well as concerns on terrorism” and the situation in Ukraine. Mr. Rogozin is one of the senior Kremlin officials under sanctions from the United States over Russian action in Crimea.