Russia » Politics
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russia-India partnership to end technical deadlock

The size of the Russian-Indian military cooperation made up $33 billion since 1960

December 2, 2004 a sitting of the Russian-Indian committee for military and technical cooperation took place in Delhi. Minister for Defense Sergey Ivanov was at head of the Russian delegation. 

That was the first Russian-Indian meeting of such a great scale over the past years. India is Russia's most reliable partner in the Asia-Pacific region that is even better predictable than China.

The military and technical cooperation between Russia and India is rather successful. According to Sergey Ivanov, the size of the Russian-Indian military cooperation made up $33 billion since 1960. Both countries expect to trade to the sum of over $5 billion in the nearest 5-7 years in the sphere of military and technical cooperation. Today, about 35 per cent of Russia’s defense production goes to India.

At the same time, Russia is also selling its best arms to China, Vietnam, Malaysia and former Soviet republics. At that, Russia is expanding the developed markets and opens up new ones. Much progress has been recently achieved in the talks with Latin American countries. What is the technique that Russia is selling abroad? These are mostly Soviet achievements because nothing new has been designed over the past 15 years of liberal reforms.

Russia now is a poor rival in defense technologies. What is more, the Russian defense complex has degraded which resulted in low quality of defense technologies; these technologies are weaker from the point of view of technology and concept. Russia exports mostly airplanes with French and Israeli avionics. At that, such airplanes are not adopted in the Russian Air Force because Russia may easily loose these supplies in case the international situation gets worse.

There is little hope that Russia's high technologies may get better. The Russian defense authorities believe the country should cooperate with those countries that keep up close relations with Russia. Sergey Ivanov adds that besides selling technologies to India and buying something from it Russia plans to set up high-technology joint enterprises. These joint enterprises may sell high technologies to other countries. 

The Indian high-technology sector is speedily developing now. Russia and India have already succeeded in joint projects: they developed a new generation ultrasound anti-ship missile in the framework of the BraMos Indian-Russian project. The developers state the missile may be successfully exported to other countries; this is the issue that is to be touched upon during the coming Russian-Indian meeting.

It is expected that Russia-India aviation projects may be a success as well. Even though Russian generals claim the national aviation industry will develop a fifth-generation destroyer in 5-7 years, experts and researchers still doubt the project may be realized before 2012-2015.

To compare, the USA plans to start production of a new destroyer in four years already. Researchers from the Sukhoi aviation bureau and military officials believe that India's participation in development of the fifth-generation destroyer may speed up the process and help start production of the new achievement as soon as possible.

Russia has already offered India and France to participate in the project. Sergey Ivanov told journalists in New Delhi that India was more likely to be the co-partner in development of the fifth-generation destroyer.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Russia's Ilyushin design bureau and the Irkut corporation will co-operate in development and production of a multi-purpose troop-carrier on the basis of Il-214. This cooperation is particularly important because the transport aviation of the Russian Air Force will be able to accomplish just 40 per cent of transportation by the year of 2015, as many aircrafts will be outdated by the time.

However, prospective cooperation in development of defense technologies may face serious problems. Both countries still have no inter-parliamentary agreement on protection of intellectual property. The Russian minister of defense says both sides have been considering the issue within the past four years; India and Russia have been coordinating the text of the agreement within the past two years. Sergey Ivanov says this agreement is essential for protection of technologies that are even more expensive than defense products themselves.

At a press-conference in New Delhi, Indian Minister for Defense Pranab Mukherjee said the original variant of the Russian-Indian agreement on protection of intellectual property would be ready in January 2005. To all appearances, Russia considers relations with India to be of great importance. RIA Novosti news agency reports that Russia is ready to give up the military cooperation with Pakistan in case India takes account of Russia's military concerns. In other words, this may mean strategic partnership with India.

Sergey Malinin