By Mohammed Ahmedullah
Moscow– Russia is currently executing $4 billion worth of defence contracts with India and is in the process of negotiating sales of military equipment costing a further $11 billion.
Contracts under negotiation include the S-400 air defence system, an order for 48 Mi-17 helicopters and the joint production of KA-226T helicopters, besides Project 11356 frigates, A.A. Mikheev, General Director of Russian Arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, told a select group of journalists in Moscow on Friday.
Referring to sanctions imposed by the US against Russian arms manufacturers and its impact on Indo-Russian arms trade, Mikheev, who was addressing the journalists together with D.A. Shugaev, Director, Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), said: “Sanctions pressure is being gradually built on us. Every day we wake up some new sanctions being imposed.”
He said a recent waiver given to India from secondary sanctions was conditional to shrinking its arms trade with Russia.
However, given the scale of current and future projects, it is unlikely that Russian arms sales to India would ever shrink. On the contrary, they are poised to grow even further owing to Russia participating in a number of procurement tenders of the Indian Ministry of Defence.
Responding to a journalist’s question, Mikheev admitted that US sanctions on Russia had affected the mode of payments for defence equipment by New Delhi to Moscow. Both countries were working on ways to neutralise the effect of sanctions and that resorting to Rupee-Ruble payments was one of the options being considered.
He said the contract to purchase the S-400 air defence system was expected to be signed before the end of the current year. He denied Russia was putting pressure on India to sign the contract and that all negotiations had been concluded, with only the contract signing awaited.
The S-400 would not only protect India from incoming missiles and aircraft but could be integrated with short-range air-defence systems such as the Buk-M4 and Tor to provide protection against lower-level threats such as UAVs and low-flying aircraft.
Mikheev said Russia was keen to increase participation in the “Make in India” programme and would welcome proposals from Indian public and private companies for joint production of military equipment. (IANS)