Annual exercise INDRA 2019, a massive war-game between India and Russia is currently wrapping up at three locations in India, after running for 10 days from December 10.
Exercises of this scale are special, reserved by India only for close strategic partners such as Russia and the USA. INDRA 2019 is perhaps the only instance of a tri-services exercise being conducted simultaneously.
This is testimony to India’s long-standing and multifaceted relations with Russia which have continued to progressively evolve from the Cold War ‘Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation,’ signed in 1971 between India and the USSR.
A Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership, was described in a historic joint statement by President Dmitry Medvedev and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2010.
Over the years, India appears to have pursued its relations with Russia independent of other global powers. For instance, as Western leaders shied away from Russia in 2015, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee attended the 70th Victory Day anniversary over Nazi Germany in Moscow, joined by the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In April 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was awarded the highest civilian award of the Russian Federation through a presidential decree, a rare honor bestowed to only 18 other distinguished personalities.
The scope of Indo-Russia strategic relations currently encompasses defense, civil nuclear energy, space, science, technology, hydrocarbons, trade and investment, with several dialogue mechanisms operating at both political and official levels.
About 70% of India’s defense equipment is of Russian or Soviet origin dating back to the 1960’s. It is estimated that since the early 1960’s, India has acquired more than $40 billion worth of defense hardware from Moscow.
Over the past 20 years, India’s defense imports from Russia have been varied and extensive and included a Kiev-class aircraft carrier (former Admiral Gorshkov).
But also destroyers, stealth frigates, conventional and nuclear submarines, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, naval helicopters, air force fighters, and army main battle tanks such as the T-72 and the T-90 are used by India now.
China was the number one arms importer from Russia for a long time; however, it was overtaken by India in 2007. This trend continued until recently, when the USA emerged as India’s largest defense supplier, overtaking Russia.
Recent defense acquisitions by India from Russia include the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air anti-ballistic missile defense system, in a deal valued at about $10 billion, making it the largest-ever single defense deal with Russia.
This has been followed by an agreement to manufacture over 200 Kamov helicopters in India in collaboration with Reliance Defense, a private Indian company.
Also both governments established a contract for four stealth frigates (including two to be built in India), and a $3 billion deal for a third Russian Akula-class nuclear attack submarine on lease from 2025, signed in March 2019.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2019.