Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, he had an ‘excellent meeting’ with his Russian counterpart General Sergey Shoigu during which he appreciated the ‘steadfast support’ provided by Russia in response to the country’s defence and security needs. Singh, who arrived in Moscow on Wednesday on a three-day visit to attend a crucial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), pressed for expediting supply of a number of weapons systems, ammunition and spares to India by Russia under contracts which were concluded earlier.
Taking to Twitter, Singh wrote, “Excellent meeting with the Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow today.”
‘We talked about a wide range of issues, particularly how to deepen defence and strategic cooperation between both the countries,’ he said in a tweet.
In a series of tweets, the defence ministry spokesperson said the meeting covered a broad range of areas of cooperation between the two countries.
It was noted that Thursday’s meeting coincides with the Indra Naval Exercises to be conducted by the Indian and Russia navies off the Straits of Malacca over the next two days.
Singh noted that these exercises demonstrated the common interests of both the countries in maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region.
There was substantial commonality in positions with respect to challenges at the regional and international levels in the areas of peace and security.
The minister ‘conveyed appreciation for the steadfast support provided by Russia consistent with the defence and security needs of India, and in this context, particularly noted the timely manner in which the Russian had responded to requests for procurement of particular weapon systems’, it said, adding that both sides would continue to maintain contacts to ensure the timely delivery. Singh also briefed Shoigu on the ‘Make-in-India’ defence programme in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Aatma Nirbhar Bharat vision,’ the ministry said in another tweet.
‘General Shoigu reiterated commitment of the Russian side to engage actively with our MOD (Ministry of Defence) to ensure the success of ‘Make-in-India’ programme including substantial participation in the forthcoming Aero India Exhibition to be held in February next year,’ the ministry said in separate tweets.
This provides a very positive basis for further engagement of Russian defence industry in the ‘Make-in-India’ programme, it said.
The rifles will be manufactured in India as part of the joint venture Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL), established between the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), the Kalashnikov Concern and Rosoboronexport — the Russian state agency for military exports, it said.
The OFB would own a majority stake of 50.5 per cent in IRRPL while the Kalashnikov Group would have a 42 per cent share.
Russia’s state-owned export agency, Rosoboronexport, would own the remaining 7.5 per cent, the report said.
The 7.62×39 mm Russian weapon will be produced at the Korwa Ordnance Factory in Uttar Pradesh, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, the report said.
The cost of per rifle is expected to be around $1,100, including the cost of technology transfer and of setting up the manufacturing unit, according to the report.
The INSAS, which is use since 1996, has developed some issues such as jamming and magazine cracking at higher altitudes in the Himalayas, the Sputnik report said.
Singh also extended an invitation for Shoigu to visit India for the next meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission for Technical and Military Cooperation which is expected to be held towards the end of this year, it said.
Earlier, officials said that Singh is also likely to request the Russian side to ensure the timely delivery of the S-400 missile defence systems to India.
The delivery of the first batch of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to India is scheduled by the end of 2021.
It is Singh’s second visit to Moscow since June.
Singh will also attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation here on Friday which will be attended by the defence ministers of the eight member nations.
The meeting is taking place under the shadow of a fierce border row between India and China, both members of the influential bloc.
The SCO comprises eight member states — India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Chinese Defence Minister Gen Wei Fenghe and Pakistan’s Pervez Khattak are expected to attend the SCO meeting.