Rediff.com  » News » India's defence pact with Ukraine annoys Russia

India's defence pact with Ukraine annoys Russia

June 10, 2009 02:53 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Russia, India's traditional defence partner, appears to be irritated over India's move to sign a defence pact with Ukraine. Both the countries recently exchanged a formal draft of the agreement, according to a defence ministry official.

The matter was raised informally by Russia during a recent visit of an Indian delegation led by Defence Secretary Vijay Singh to Moscow. The defence agreement with Ukraine is at an advanced stage of negotiation.

Ukraine is counted among the world's top 10 defence equipment producers as it has inherited a defence industry producing tanks, planes, including the Antonov series of aircraft that are a large part of the IAF's transport fleet, anti-aircraft and radar systems after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Additionally, it has the capacity to build aircraft carrier ships as the undivided Soviet Union's aircraft manufacturing facilities were located in Kiev, currently the capital of Ukraine.

India was put out because Ukraine has supplied T 90 tanks to Pakistan in the past. The AN-12 and AN-32 series of transport planes used by the Indian Air Force are still serviced by Ukraine. In June last year, Moscow said it would sever all defence industry ties with Ukraine should the latter join NATO.

Apart from producing the Antonov series of transport aircraft, Ukraine also retains the rights to service them.

It also has the capacity to build the Mi series of helicopters, apart from T-80 tanks.

With Kiev being the former Soviet Union's aircraft building base, Ukraine retained the capacities to build these mammoth war machines, forcing Russia to build the capability at Sevmash shipyard, meant for submarines, in north Russia.

Russia has been warning India about the "pitfalls" of entering such a defence agreement with Ukraine. Sources said India tried to smoothen Moscow's concerns.

Moscow is also believed to be unhappy over reported comments of former IAF chief Fali Homi Major, just before his retirement, that India would prefer A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) for mid-air refuelling of fighter aircraft, instead of the Russian Illushin-78 tankers, six of which are already being used by the IAF.

Though Major did clarify that the government was yet to take a decision, it failed to placate the Russians, who indicated as much to the Indian delegation that was in Moscow last week to attend the high-level monitoring committee under an inter-governmental commission.

The A330 MRTT issue too came up for an informal discussion with the Russian officials, who stated that they were "slightly upset" with the remarks emanating from India that the Il-78 platform was 'not up to the mark'.

The defence ministry official clarified that India had not yet taken a decision on which of the two shortlisted platforms -- A330 and Il-78 -- they should go in for under the $1.3-billion deal for six aircraft.

"Both the platforms are currently under consideration. We will take a decision soon," he said. However, the official did indicate that the IAF's technical evaluation committee had pointed out certain advantages in going in for A330 MRTT.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Source: source
 
The War Against Coronavirus

The War Against Coronavirus