Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday left for Moscow on a 3-day visit where he will explore options of ramping up bilateral security and defence cooperation between the two countries. The defence minster’s visit to Moscow comes at least three weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to intensify defence ties through joint manufacture and co-production of key military hardware, during their annual summit talks at St Petersburg.
Jaitley is expected to co-chair the 17th meeting of the Indo-Russia Inter Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation with his counterpart General Sergei Shoigu on June 23. In a statement, the Defence Ministry said the meeting will look into the entire gamut of military and military-technical cooperation issues between India and Russia within the framework of the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
On June 21, Jaitley will co-chair the first meeting of the India-Russia High Level Committee on Science and Technology along with Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin. The India-Russia High Level Committee on Science and Technology is a newly established committee to discuss cooperation in high technologies. Jaitley is also likely to address a gathering at the plenary session of the Technoprom, Russia’s major annual science, technology and innovation exhibition.
Although Russia has been one of India’s key suppliers of arms and ammunition, the Indian Armed Forces have a long-standing grievance that supply of critical equipment from the country takes a long time. This, the armed forces say, affects maintenance of military systems procured from Russia.
Earlier this year in March, Jaitley had put across that Russia should adopt a liberal approach in sharing technology for components of major defence platforms because it was critical to keep them in operational readiness as most of India’s weapon systems are of Russian-origin.