Putin visits India to power up economy ties

Putin visits India to power up economy ties

MOSCOW - The Associated Press
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin arrived in India late yesterday on a visit intended to help cement Russia’s position in the growing Indian market and reinvigorate political ties.

Following Putin’s talks today with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian officials, Moscow and New Delhi are scheduled to sign agreements on trade, science, education and law enforcement.

While the volume of Russian-Indian trade has risen six fold since 2000 and is expected to reach $10 billion this year, the growth has slowed in recent years. And even though India remains the No. 1 customer for Russia’s arms industries, Moscow has recently lost several multibillion-dollar contracts to Western weapons-makers.

Russia and India have shared close ties since the Cold War, when Moscow was a key ally and the principal arms supplier to New Delhi. The ties slackened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but grew stronger again after Putin came to power in 2000, seeking to revive Moscow’s global clout and restore ties with old allies.

Russia has maintained its strong positions in the Indian market with $30 billion worth of arms contracts with India signed in 2000-2010 that envisaged supplies of hundreds of fighter jets, missiles, tanks and other weapons, a large part of which were license-produced in India. The countries have cooperated on building an fighter plane and a new transport aircraft and have jointly developed a supersonic cruise missile for India. But the military cooperation has hit snags in recent years, as New Delhi shops more for Western weapons. The Indians also haven’t been always happy with the quality of Russian weapons. In one example, in 2004 Russia signed a $1 billion contract to refurbish a Soviet-built aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy. Four years after the deadline, the ship is still in a Russian shipyard and the contract price has reportedly soared.