The dynamics of the Indo-Russian defence collaboration have evolved from a buyer-seller relationship towards collaborative joint action. Moscow already has an institutionalised military-technical cooperation (MTC) framework with India. Both sides are working towards defence technology transfer, trade, research, co-development and co-production for defence articles and services, including the most advanced and sophisticated technology. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile - an Indo-Russian joint venture - remains the gold-standard of defence collaboration between India and a foreign nation. The recent, successful test of the longer range 450 km version of the BrahMos missile is another testament to the success of the program. Joint development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and the Multi Transport Aircraft, licensed production of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks in India, supply of MiG-29-K aircraft; Kamov-31 and Mi-17 helicopters, upgradation of MiG-29 aircraft and supply of Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher Smerch are stellar examples of this collaboration.
What’s new: India and Russia inked a USD 1 billion deal to jointly produce 200 Kamov 226T helicopters: the first major defence venture under India’s “Make in India” programme at BRICS 2016
Indo-Russia partnership in the field of exploration, production, transportation, refining, storage, sale and use of oil & natural gas has been deep-rooted and stable. The two sides are now working towards realisation of an ‘Energy Bridge’ through the construction of a gas pipeline for direct delivery of gas from Russia to India. India also has stakes in oil & gas fields in the Arctic and Baltic regions. The acquisition of 23.9% stake in Vankorneft and 29.9% in Taas-Yuryakh by an Indian Consortium of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Bharat Petro Resources Ltd. and Oil India Ltd; and acquisition of 26% stake by OVL in Vankorneft from Rosneft Oil Company of Russia are clear indicators of a strong ongoing cooperation.
What’s new: MoU between Engineers India Ltd and Gazprom on the Joint Study of a gas pipeline to India and other possible areas of cooperation and Sale and Purchase Agreement between Rosneft and Essar for acquisition of 49% stake in Essar Oil Limited at BRICS 2016
Although a more recent area of collaboration, Russian Railways has shown notable interest in collaborating with its Indian counterpart to offer state-of-the-art technologies in automation, safety system, collision repair and monitoring of rail network through Global Positioning System (GPS). Russia is keen to tie up with India for its planned high-speed rail links and is assisting India with upgradation of the speed of passenger trains on the 575 km long Nagpur-Secunderabad route from 120 kmph to 200 kmph. Technical and technological solutions, including reconstruction of railway alignment have also been proposed.
What’s new: Russian Railways will undertake a feasibility study to upgrade train speeds on the 575 km long Nagpur-Secunderabad route. MoU signed in BRICS 2016
India’s first economic agreement with Russia was for setting up a steel plant at Bhilai in 1955. In the following years, an agreement to set up another steel plant at Bokaro was signed. Eight of India’s 16 heavy industry projects in the five year plan of 1956-1961 were built with the help of Russia, the country's role in establishing a base for India’s Heavy Engineering industry cannot be understated. More recently, Russia’s CNIITSMASH helped establish a Centre of Excellence for heavy engineering design at Heavy Engineering Corporation and for upgradation and modernisation of HEC’s manufacturing facilities.
What’s new: Russia’s heavy equipment building company Uralmash and India’s SRB International have agreed to form a JV to manufacture heavy equipment in the steel and mining sectors in India.
India and Russia share a 40-year-old relationship in the space sector, which began when India’s first satellite 'Aryabhata' was launched on a Russian launch vehicle. A framework agreement was signed in 2007 whereby the two countries agreed to cooperate in the peaceful uses of outer space including satellite launches, GLONASS navigation, remote sensing and other societal applications of outer space. Another interesting collaboration was witnessed when an agreement was signed between C-DAC and GLONASS for cooperation in technologies based on satellite navigation. Youthsat, an Indian-Russian scientific-educational satellite is second in the Indian Mini Satellite series and intends to understand how variability in solar activity affects our planet’s upper atmosphere.
What’s new: ISRO and Roscosmos signed a MoU at BRICS 2016 to establish ground measurement gathering stations for GLONASS and NAvIC in India and Russia.
Indo-Russia cooperation in the sector, while in its nascent stage, seems to have bright prospects. With several MoUs in planning stage, such as the one between Solar Energy Corporation of India and Russian Energy Agency regarding construction of solar energy plants in India, there have been multiple talks of exploring opportunities in this area on both sides. In fact, the planned ‘Energy Bridge’ between the two countries will be driven by engagement in renewable energy sources.
What’s new: Chennai-based Al Ameen Green Energy closed a USD 80 million deal with Miyota Power India Pvt Ltd, a Russian joint venture, for financing a 100 megawatt solar power generation project.
India’s nuclear power equation with Russia has been long-established, with Russia actively assisting India in its nuclear power generation programme in the last four decades. India’s largest nuclear power plant, Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), is being built in collaboration with Russia, the second unit of which was recently dedicated to the Indo-Russia relationship. The two sides have in place a ‘strategic vision document on nuclear power’ which states that both sides would strive to complete the construction and commissioning of “not less than 12 units” in the next two decades. Further, the manufacture of equipment and components for the same is also planned in India, in keeping with India’s “Make in India” policy.
What’s new: Foundation-laying ceremony for the next reactors at Kudankulam at BRICS 2016.
This is another area where opportunities for collaboration are beginning to blossom. Quite recently, Russian shipbuilding corporations have shown interest to invest in India. Russia’s biggest shipbuilding corporation JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation, has recently signed an MoU with Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board. With the boost that this MoU provides to shipbuilding in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, the state would soon emerge as one of the biggest shipbuilding hubs in Asia in the years to come.
What’s new: MoU between JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation and the Council for Economic Cooperation of Andhra Pradesh on studying perspectives for cooperation in shipbuilding, implementation of infrastructure projects, transfer of technologies and training foreign specialists.