Russia allays Indian issues over its rising ties with Pakistan

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21

The Russian envoy to India on Monday cleared the air over Moscow’s increasing ties with Pakistan and reiterated its offer for the advanced Su-57 fighter.

“I sincerely do not think India should be worried about Russia’s commitment to respecting its sensitivity,” said Russian Deputy Ambassador Roman Babushkin at a virtual press conference when asked about Moscow’s recent military exercises and involvement in an ambitious trans-country pipeline in Pakistan.

“At the same time we regard our relations with Pakistan as independent in nature and we also have a bilateral trade and economic agenda,” he added.

“This is counter-terrorism experience sharing and capacity building (military exercises with Pakistan), which is quite natural for SCO member states. On the other hand we have advanced level of military exercises with India involving all the three services,” he explained.

Russian Ambassador to India Nikolai Kudashev said Moscow was committed to sharing “almost everything” with India to realise the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. This included taking a close look at the military industrial corridors in UP and Tamil Nadu and unveiling the Su-57 in India next February.

Russia is also making a pitch for the T-14 Armata main battle tank, pitched as the first in the world with an uninhabited tower.

Kudashev also highlighted the civil nuclear partnership with India, with the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant as its flagship project. Russia, he said, was the “only foreign country so deeply involved in the Indian nuclear power sector”.

Moscow is also keen to partner with India to export armaments to other countries but the stumbling block, as in the case of Brahmos missile, was that “there were a lot of mechanisms involved”.   

“Russia is a responsible country in the arms control regime. The same is the case with India. Our bilateral military technical cooperation should not bring any threat to the regional balance. This is the driving force of our future partnership,” outlined Kudashev.

Asked whether US might sanction India after Turkey for purchasing the Russian S-400, Kudashev described American unilateral sanctions as an “endless story like our relationship”.

“It is hard to predict whether the Biden administration does not welcome sanctions as a medium of inter-state relations,” he said while hoping that New Delhi would expedite decisions on manufacturing Ka-226 helicopters and AK-203 rifles in India.

Russia is working “very hard’’ with India to jointly produce Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at Dr Reddy’s Laboratories for use in India, Russia and other countries, he said.

Moscow was also keen to join the Indian Ocean Rim Association as “we must take advantage of cooperation emerging in this vast region”, said Kudashev.

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