The defense Minister of our country Rajnath Singh left for a 3-day visit to Russia during on Monday that he is expected to ask Moscow for urgently supply spares required by the Indian military against the backdrop of tensions with China as well.
Although Singh’s visit is to attend the ceremonies associated with the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany in the Second World War, a report by ANI news agency said Singh will ask Russia to supply the spares needed for Indian fighter jets, tanks, and the submarine to be dispatched by air rather than by ship to cut short the time taken for the transfer.
Another ANI report had last week said Singh would seek 21 MiG-29s from Russia as well as 12 Sukhoi MKI. Though on the negotiation table for more than two years, the Indian defense ministry was expected to fast track the clearances for procuring the additional aircraft to make up for shortfalls incurred by the phase-out of older MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircraft besides the loss of SU-30MKI through crashes. The deal to procure the MiG-29s and SU-30MKI were worth about ₹5,000- ₹6,000 crores. The Ministry of Defence, the Indian Air Force nor the Russian embassy in New Delhi confirmed ANI reports.
Singh is expected to discuss these issues with his Russian counterpart on the sidelines of ceremonies associated with Victory Day celebrations, the ANI report said.
The visit to Russia has seen as close to India during the Cold War years that is Singh’s first in four months as foreign travels have been restricted because of the novel coronavirus pandemic situation. Of late, Russia is been seen close to China, especially since Western countries led by the US imposed sanctions on Russia for the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Russian ties with the Western countries dipped further with the downing of a Malaysia passenger jet also in 2014. MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014 when it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Moscow rebels amid fighting in eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board were killed most of whom were Dutch nationals.
Ties between India and China have deteriorated sharply since May with the troops on both sides clashing at several locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in an attempt by China to push further into Indian territory and claim it for itself citing the border.
On 15 June, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent face-off between the two sides seen as the bloodiest in 45 years. Singh had a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs before his departure for Moscow on Monday.
India has put its troops across the LAC on high alert. Air force stations in forwarding areas near the LAC and some others have also been put on alert. The Indian Navy has also been asked to be on standby alert in the wake of tensions with China.