India raises "unprovoked aggression" on the northern borders with Russia during Putin's visit to the country

President Putin expresses concern on Afghanistan.

December 06, 2021 02:09 pm | Updated December 07, 2021 08:36 am IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to their meeting at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on December 6, 2021.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to their meeting at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on December 6, 2021.

The world has undergone many geo-political changes but India-Russia friendship has remained unchanged, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday in the 21st annual India-Russia summit with President Vladimir Putin. The two sides held the first ever "2+2" ministerial meeting where Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India has faced "unprovoked aggression" on its northern borders for more than a year.

"In the past several decades, several fundamental changes have taken place at the global level. Several geo-political equations were altered. But despite these variables, India-Russia friendship remained constant. The two sides not only cooperated with each other unhesitatingly but also paid special attention to the sensitivities of each other," said Prime Minister Modi at the summit with Vladimir Putin. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla in a media interaction noted that this was Mr Putin's second visit abroad since the pandemic began two years ago.

President Putin in his comments referred to the  common fight against organised crime, drug trafficking and terrorism and said, "It is natural we are concerned at the developments in Afghanistan."

Both sides renewed the military-technical cooperation agreement for another 10 years till 2031 and also signed the deal for the manufacture of Ak-203 assault rifles, a defence official said.In all both sides concluded 28 agreements, said Mr Shringla who also stated that several hydrocarbon projects are on the anvil.

"I had the opportunity to discuss in detail the emerging challenges India is confronted with and the enhanced requirement of India for closer military to military technical collaboration with Russia. The pandemic, the extraordinary militarisation and expansion of armament in our neighbourhood and unprovoked aggression on our northern border since early summer of 2020 has thrown in several challenges," said Mr Singh addressing the "2+2" dialogue where Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also participated.

Mr Singh sought "greater engagements in Central Asia and the Indian Ocean Region" during the talks.

The deal for 6.1 lakh Ak-203 assault rifles is estimated at over Rs 5,000 crore and will be manufactured by a Joint Venture, Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd (IRRPL) at Korwa, Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. IRRPL was set up jointly between the erstwhile OFB [now Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL) and Munitions India Limited (MIL)] of India and Rosoboronexport (RoE) and concern Kalashnikov of Russia.

The deal has been stuck over the high cost of each rifle and the high incidental costs of the Ordnance factory. As part of efforts to bring down costs, Russia dropped the royalty to be charged in the deal, officials confirmed. With the $5.43 bn S-400 as well  other big ticket deals, the defence trade between India and Russia crossed $15 bn since 2018.

A bilateral logistics support deal Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS), as well as a Navy to Navy cooperation MoU were also on the agenda.

Russia has also begun deliveries of the S-400 long range air defence systems, the shipments of which are enroute. They should arrive in the next 10 days, a senior defence official said. Two teams of Indian Air Force personnel have already been trained to operate the system and the first unit to be deployed in North West India is expected to be operational within the next two-three months. In all, at the 20th meeting of India-Russia Inter-Govt Commission on Military & Military Technical Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) four agreements, contracts and protocols were signed.

Addressing the "2+2" meeting General Shoigu said the concerned agencies from both sides will collaborate with each other to increase "regional trust and global security".

"We are meeting at a critical juncture in the geopolitical environment which is in great flux especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Our ties have been close and time tested. We have had an active dialogue at a political level and a strong defence partnership over many years," said Mr Jaishankar who pointed out that globalisation is "over centralised" and sought multipolarity in world affairs. Mr Jaishankar raised the condition of Afghanistan and said the situation there has "wider repercussions" in several regions including for Central Asia. He also emphasised maritime security as a common area for the "special and privileged strategic partnership" between India and Russia.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, however, highlighted an area of divergence over Indo-Pacific strategy. "We expressed our concern about the activities taking place in this region under the slogan of Indo-Pacific strategies, where we see non-inclusive blocks. The latest example is AUKUS (Australia-UK-US)," said Mr Lavrov in a press briefing.

The tradition of annual  India-Russia summit was launched in 2000 during the Premiership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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