Russia is our most important defence partner, says Modi

New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and termed Russia as India’s foremost defence partner.
The two sides inked 16 agreements, including in the sphere of defence cooperation, oil and gas and in trade, after the holding of the 15th India-Russia annual summit.
Modi, reading out a statement after the talks, said both sides have outlined an “ambitious vision for nuclear energy of at least 10 more reactors”.
Putin, who read out his statement after Modi, said Russia and India have signed an important statement on nuclear energy cooperation and Russia would set up “20 nuclear units” in India and also cooperate in uranium mining.
According to the vision document on nuclear energy cooperation: “The two sides have decided to fast-track the implementation of agreed cooperation projects for Nuclear Power Plants. Both Sides will strive to complete the construction and commissioning of not less than 12 units in the next two decades.”
India has agreed to “expeditiously identify a second site, in addition to Kudankulam, for the construction of the Russian-designed nuclear power units in India. The sides will join their expertise and resources to minimise the total cost and time of construction of nuclear power units”, it said. In the field of hydrocarbons, too, both sides inked agreements for India to scout for oil and gas in the resource rich Arctic Shelf.
Modi said India, despite being one of the world’s largest importers of hydrocarbons, has not cooperated enough in this setor. “Today, we have made a new start with a few important agreements. But we will set an ambitious agenda for partnership in oil and gas,” said Modi.
Putin said Russian energy behemoths Rosneft and Gazprom would join up with Indian companies to scout for oil and gas in the Arctic Shelf. Defence was another area that saw both sides enhancing cooperation.
Modi said Russia has been “India’s foremost defence partner through decades” and mentioned the refitted Russian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya as a “great symbol” of bilateral defence cooperation. “Even as India’s options have increased today, Russia will remain our most important defence partner,” he said. India imports around 70 percent of its defence requirements from Russia, but has been looking at other countries, including Israel and the US, for its weaponry.
He said the two sides had discussed a broad range of new defence projects and how to “align our defence relations to India’s own priorities including Make in India”.
The prime minister said Russia has offered to fully manufacture in India one of its most advanced helicopters, with the possibility of exports from India. The helicopter can be used for both military and civilian use.
Modi also proposed that Russia should locate its defence spares and components manufacturing facilities in India and added that Putin had “responded very positively” to the request. Getting Russian spares for defence equipment purchased earlier by India has been a major headache for India.
Modi thanked Russia for its support in building closer relations with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union. Modi also conveyed his condolences at the loss of lives in a terror attack in Chechnya last week. (Source-

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