Moscow, Oct 18: India and Russia have agreed to further strengthen their defence cooperation and aim to take it to a new high.
During a meeting between Defence Minister A K Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov here, both sides agreed to reassess bilateral defence ties in the light of new global realties.
From a buyer and a seller relationship, the Indo-Russian relation has evolved to be one of “mutual cooperation of joint production", Antony said at a joint press briefing following his discussions with Serdyukov.
“One of the most important projects which are underway in terms of bilateral military technical cooperation is the production of the Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter, the MT 90 tanks, as well as the implementation of the Brahmos project and the implementation of the counter additional free Project 11356," said Serdyukov.
Citing instances of evolving ties with Russia, Antony said “Our joint effort in the production of the Brahmos and plan to co-develop FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft) are some of the examples," adding that “these projects could be the harbinger of the newer heights that our defence relations can achieve."
Earlier, Antony ruled out ignoring Russia at the cost of a deepening military and strategic relation with the US.
“When we are improving our relations with US and other countries, it does not mean at the cost of our old friendship. Friendship with Russia will continue, and it will further increase and defence relations with Russia will further develop," said Antony ahead of the Seventh India-Russia Inter- Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation talks here on Wednesday.
He said the very fact that there is joint inter-governmental Commission between India and Russia is demonstrative of the special relations between the two old friends.
“Important projects such as the licenses projects of T 90 tanks, multi-road fighter aircrafts, SU 30 MKI, repair and refurbishment of aircraft carrier Abmiral Bosky, along with supply of the base fighter aircraft Mi 29k are evidence of successful implementation of the programme," said Antony.
Antony is on a four-day visit to Russia. Talks relating to the development of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft are likely to dominate the visit.
The seventh meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) focussed on issues, including the further revamping of bilateral military ties, additional purchase of Russian defence hardware and cost escalation in deals that have already been inked.
Antony and Serdyukov co-chaired the IRIGC-MTC meeting. India is the biggest market for Russian weaponry worldwide, with armament sales touching almost 10 billion dollars annually.
Moscow is keen on retaining the Indian market in the face of growing competition from the US, French and Israeli armaments majors.
Antony's trip sets the stage for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow in November for his annual summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had visited Moscow last week. This is Antony's first visit to Russia and only his second abroad since assuming office a year ago. He had visited Singapore in June for a meeting of the Shangri-La Dialogue regional security grouping.