We are an ally who stood by India in darkest hours: Russia

With deals over $12 billion in kitty this month, including leasing of a second nuclear submarine, Russia hopes to bag more projects as it termed itself as not just a business partner but an "ally" who stood by India in its "darkest hours".

Russia is eying the multi-billion dollar deal for P75-I project of India under which six conventional submarines are to be built with Air Independent Propulsion systems and the next aircraft carrier project besides the deal to jointly develop a fifth generation fighter aircraft.

Asserting that there is no limit to what India and Russia can do together, a top Russian defense official claimed the US and Europeans can never give what Moscow can and has offered.

"We are ready not just to deliver most serious weapons, most important weapons but continue to give our state of art technology," Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostec State Corporation, an umbrella organisation of 700 hi-tech civilian and military firms, told PTI.

"Russia is a friend, an ally and not a business partner. Russia stood by India during its darkest hours. Next year willmark 70 years of our relationship. It is a long time," he said and noted that Russia had stood by India when it faced sanctions after the 1998 nuclear tests.

"Not so in the recent past, when India was under sanctions, we were pretty much the only partner for India.

"Russia has been a partner not only in every day military supplies but also most sensitive and most important supplies including a nuclear submarine which was rented to India for you to use," said Chemezov who is also a close aide of Russian President Vladmir Putin.

"Come to think about it, I would not imagine any other country to do that, he said. Not in the past or in the future. I cannot imagine US or Europe giving India such a strategic asset," he said when asked about the tough competition that US and Europe are giving to Russia in the Indian defence market.

Not only did Russia lease out a nuclear powered

submarine, it actively helped in the building India's first indigenous nuclear weapon carrying capable submarine INS Arihant which has been inducted into the Indian Navy.

Chemezov said "it is a very special year for us and will be marked by major projects and things are starting already."

He, however, admitted that from a third person's point of view, there might have been some decline in some areas of defense between the two countries. US and some European countries have managed to strike mega deals with India which the Russians were also competing for.

"It is not a linear sort of relationship. We feel that ties are definitely developing and increasing," he said.

Giving example of the deadly BrahMos missile, Chemezov said that not only has Russia delivered high value equipment but has also collaborated with India on developing strategic assets.

He pointed out that in late 1990s, Russia had transferred technology for Su30 MKI, India's frontline fighter aircraft.

"At that point of time, it was our most modern equipment, our most modern plane. When we had actually signed that agreement, Russia did not even equip its army with this.

"This was basically our newest highest technology. That shows and speaks about our relationship with India," he said.

He also gave the example of T90 tanks, saying they are "not in anyway less but in many way, modern than any advanced US or European technologies".

He said there is scope for cooperation in the P75-I and the aircraft carrier project.

"There is definitely scope for both of those. There is pretty much no limit to what we could do together. Anything that is within our realm of things and possibilities, means it is the same with India," he said.

Chemezov said that Russia has already submitted its proposals for both projects.

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