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Author`s name Dmitriy Sudakov

Russia and India to cooperate in Afghanistan and in space

42796.jpegIndia is ready to participate in the program to privatize Russian state assets in 2011-2013, an official spokesperson for the Indian Foreign Affairs Ministry said. The subject will be discussed at the Russian-Indian forum for trade and investments, which is currently taking place in Moscow. In addition, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev may raise the issue during his upcoming visit to India.

Indian business is interested in the privatization program, which is evaluated at $32 billion. The governments of the two countries also cooperate in the field of hydrocarbons. Russia and India mutually supplement each other, because India is interested in stable deliveries of oil and gas, whereas Russia is interested in having a stable customer.

The construction of the gas pipeline connecting Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI project) can obviously become a very important project between Russia and India. The pipeline is expected to be 1,680 kilometers long as it starts in Turkmenia's Dovletabad gas field and ends in India's Fazilka, near Pakistan's border. The capacity of the pipeline is 33 billion cubic meters of gas.

The Russian Federation has refused from the perspective, but not comfortable for the USA Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, IPI, which was considered to be a competitor to TAPI. The war in Afghanistan continues, and allied troops do not seem to be able to stabilize the situation there. It is not ruled out that Russian troops will appear in Afghanistan some time in the future too.

The Russian military contingent may appear in Afghanistan under the pretext of the struggle against drug trafficking. Tens of thousands of people die in Russia because of Afghan heroine every year. Russia has already conducted joint military drills with India in Himalayas, near Pakistani borders.

In the north of Afghanistan, US troops conducted joint operations with Russian anti-drug agencies. It has already been decided that Russian border guards will return to the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

President Medvedev is certain that Russian companies have the required experience and basis to build TAPI gas pipeline. The pipeline can be launched already in 2013-2014, whereas 2014 is considered to be the year, when the Americans finish their mission in Afghanistan.

Some Indian experts believe, though, that TAPI will become the reason for NATO's and USA's long-time presence in the key spot of Eurasia.

"A part of the Afghan leg of the pipeline will be built under the ground to protect the pipe from possible attacks. It will be guarded by local communities, and they will be paid for that. Kabul hopes, though, that the USA and the North Atlantic Alliance will take efforts to guarantee security to the gas pipeline. This in its turn will give the West a good official reason to preserve its military presence in Afghanistan," M.K. Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat, told Regnum news agency.

As for India's participation in the Russian privatization, we would like to remind that the Russian Federation government plans to sell over a hundred of federal state unitary enterprises in 2011-2013. In addition, there are plans to sell state-owned shareholdings of several joint stock companies.

It is planned to privatize the shareholdings of Rosneft (25 percent minus one share), RusHydro (7.97 percent minus one share), FISK (4.11 percent minus one share), Sovkomflot (50 percent minus one share), Sberbank (7.58 percent minus one share), VTB (35.5 percent minus one share), United Grain Company (100 percent till 2012), Rosagroleasing (50 percent minus one share - not earlier than 2013), RZD Russian Railways (25 percent minus one share - not earlier than 2013).

Apparently, India will be interested in the assets related to its national interests and adequate infrastructure. In addition to TAPI, it goes about CASA-1000 - the system to deliver electric power from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In addition, Russia and India have stable links in the field of military and technical cooperation. For example, Russia is working on its highly reputable fifth-generation fighter jet in cooperation with India.

Russia also builds additional units for Kudankulam nuclear power plant, whereas India is interested in Russia's Skolkovo technological project. The two countries also intend to share GLONASS satellite navigation system and conduct a joint lunar project.

Sergei Nikolayev
Pravda.Ru

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