Dmitry Rogozin to visit India this month

Rogozin’s visit is unscheduled and is an attempt to reassure the top Indian leadership that the country remains Moscow’s most important defence and strategic partner. Source: Itar-Tass

Rogozin’s visit is unscheduled and is an attempt to reassure the top Indian leadership that the country remains Moscow’s most important defence and strategic partner. Source: Itar-Tass

The talks between the Russia’s deputy prime minister and the Indian establishment will be the first high-level engagement between the countries since Narendra Modi became prime minister.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin will visit India this month to discuss defence, trade, nuclear energy and space cooperation, sources told RIR on Friday. Rogozin, who co-chairs the India-Russia Inter-governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation, is being sent by Vladimir Putin to prepare the heavy diplomatic agenda between the countries this year.

A high-level Russian defence delegation is in Delhi for talks with their Indian counterparts. Defence Secretary V K Mathur is leading the Indian side, which is also represented by senior officers from all three wings of the armed forces, while, the Russian delegation is headed by Rostec Chief Executive Sergey Chemezov and Rosoboronexport head Anatoly Isaykin.

Rogozin’s visit is unscheduled and is an attempt to reassure the top Indian leadership that the country remains Moscow’s most important defence and strategic partner, sources close to the situation told RIR. While the Indian government has not officially reacted to negotiations between Russia and Pakistan for the sale of Mi-35 helicopters, there have been several misleading reports in the Indian media that an arms embargo on Islamabad was lifted by Moscow.

Both Rostec Chief Executive Sergey Chemezov and Russian Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin denied the existence of such an embargo. “We have supplied arms to Pakistan since early 1960s. This was sheer case of mis-reporting and over-reacting,” Kadakin said earlier this week. The ambassador said the Russia had supplied Mi-17 civilian aircraft and that Mi-35 helicopters would be needed by Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban and drug-smugglers crossing over from Afghanistan.

An Indian Defence Ministry official laughed off claims from “Indian pundits” that the Mi-35 helicopters could be used against India. “These are helicopters that are primarily meant for the plains and not for high mountainous terrain. There is an altitude limit for the heavy Mi-35 and these helicopters cannot be used in places like Kashmir,” the official who is not authorised to talk to the media, told RIR on the condition of anonymity.

The over-reaction from the Indian media has no doubt led to concern in Moscow. No senior Russian officials were expected in India until September, when Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu visits the Indian capital. Rogozin’s visit will soothe nerves among the Indian establishment, which has faced a media blitzkrieg over the last few days. 

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