Vladimir Putin has started his two-day official visit to India Thursday. The visit shows that Russia is serious about preserving large-scale cooperation with its key partner in Asia. The cooperation with India is even bigger than that Russia has with China. Putin realizes that Russia needs to hurry with signing a number of defense and nuclear industry contracts with India because US and European competitors share similar intentions and attempt to oust Russian producers from the Indian market.
Putin’s first day in India is devoted to business meetings and negotiations only. On January 26 the President of Russia will participate in the celebration of the national Republic Day. Putin has already conducted negotiations with Indian PM Manmohan Singh and other politicians, including the leader of the largest political group in the country, Sonia Gandhi. Gandhi was forced to step down from the position of the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance under the pressure of the general public in March 2006. However, she still has a significant influence on political affairs in India.
The fact that Putin arrived in India on the threshold of Republic’s Day shows that the visit carries not only official, but a friendly character too.
It is worth mentioning that Russia and India have already signed two large contracts for the development and construction of a new generation battle plane and air engines. In addition, Russian companies will participate in the tender for the delivery of aviation military hardware to Indian Armed Forces. Moscow intends to sell 126 MiG-35 pursuit planes to Delhi. The cost of the deal is evaluated at up to ten billion dollars.
Putin will discuss the question of India’s foreign debt in Delhi too. India is one of the few solvent countries which still has debts to Russia left from the Soviet era. Most likely, Delhi will not have to pay the entire sum of the debt. The two countries have come to an agreement to set up a new joint venture for the production of 40,000 tons of titanium dioxide a year. Russia will receive 30,000 tons from the production.
Russia has also signed another agreement with India to connect the country to the Russian space navigation system GLONASS, which is said to become a competitor for USA’s GPS.
Moscow also intends to obtain an order for the construction of four nuclear reactors in India. Russia will have to take much effort to win the deal in the struggle with European producers as well as US companies, which resumed their activities on the Indian market last year, when they signed several large-scale contracts in the field of nuclear energy.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov