Russian Vice-Premier Ilya Klebanov is to leave for India on February 5 to take part in meetings of the Russian – Indian intergovernmental commission for military, technical, commercial, and economic co-operation. The main goal of the visit is to settle the problems connected with the sale of the navy's aircraft carrier "Admiral Gorshkov" to India. However, under the present-day conditions of the Indian – Pakistani conflict, Klebanov’s visit is also to demonstrate Russia's support of Delhi in its opposition to Islamabad.
India is traditionally one of the main buyers of Russian arms; it is rated second after China regarding the volume of its purchases. Russia supplies tanks, planes, ABM systems, and navy equipment to India. The Russian government considers that cooperation with India in the military and technical spheres is very promising for many reasons. First of all, India is one of the few countries that duly pays for supplied arms. A great part of the payment is made in mass consumption goods, medicine for example. This suits the present-day conditions in Russia rather well. Indian medicines are cheaper than their western counterparts, but the quality is very high. Second, the opening of joint manufactures is very profitable for the military and technical cooperation between the two countries. For example, the assembly of combat planes is to be started in India within the next few years. Finally, Russia and India have no discrepancies regarding especially important international problems. This concerns the attitudes of Moscow and Delhi to the struggle with terrorism.
India has always treated the operations in Chechnya with understanding, maybe because of the fact that Delhi knows perfectly well what separatism and religious extremism mean. Moscow appreciates the position of Delhi. In any case, on the eve of Klebanov’s visit to India, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, during his visit to the countries of South and Central Asia, said in Delhi that India was a strategic partner of Russia. The foreign minister also approved of India’s discreet position in the conflict with Pakistan. Thus, Moscow and Delhi have achieved a mutual understanding in the political sphere.
Certainly, Russia needs such friendly relations with India to be strengthened, mainly for the preservation of its influence in the region. India has always been and still remains one of the most attractive markets for arms exporters. This can be mostly explained by the permanently unstable political situation in the region. In any case, if Russia loses such a purchaser of its arms as India, Russia’s economy may suffer great losses in many spheres.
The same concerns Russian-Indian cooperation in the sphere of nuclear power. It is an open secret that if Russian companies give up cooperation with India, the niche will be immediately occupied by British, French, and American companies. Washington will not criticize India’s atomic program as soon as US specialists take it up. Moreover, India is an owner of the nuclear weapons de facto, although some countries may dislike it.
The visit of the Russian vice-premier is sure to clarify the prospects of bipartite cooperation between the two countries. The prospects seem to be rather favorable under the present conditions.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/05/36587.html