India and Russia are to enhance defence cooperation not only in procurement, but also in "additional" production of Russian military equipment in India. This was discussed during the visit of Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, to India on 5-6 April.
"Russia remains India’s leading external contractor in this strategically important area. I would like to note that we are the only partner that is giving India cutting-edge military technology. We are convinced that further deepening of MTC meets the national interests of both countries. That said, we respect the right of our Indian friends to diversify their ties in this area." - said the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Lavrov praised the development of cooperation in peaceful space exploration, laying special emphasis on such areas as manned flight programmes, rocket engine production, and satellite navigation.
Answering a question on the "pressure" from the side of the United States on India regarding its military-technical cooperation with Russia, Lavrov commented: "It was not me who pointed out that the United States has been putting pressure on India and on any other country that has or plans to sign contracts with Russia for the supply of weapons. This has been publicly and without any hesitation announced by the United States. Everyone knows this well. We are also well aware of the response from India."
He stressed that during his talks with his Indian counterparts, they reaffirmed their commitment to the development of military-technical cooperation between Russian and India.
"We have the Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation, which has its own plans, including discussing the prospects for additional production of Russian military equipment in India as part of the 'Make in India' and 'Self-Sufficient India' concepts. I did not feel any hesitation here on the part of our Indian friends and partners," he added.
Lavrov's visit aimed to prepare for the annual India-Russia summit and to discuss bilateral cooperation. The Russian Minister held a joint news conference following talks with Minister of External Affairs of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
In an Interview with Hindustan Times, Lavrov said that the dates of next sessions of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation, Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military and Technical Cooperation and Inter-Parliamentary Commission are under consideration.