India, Russia to collaborate on civilian aircraft

India, Russia to collaborate on civilian aircraft

Notwithstanding US frowns, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forthcoming visit to New Delhi is likely to boost bilateral trade and economic ties, with Moscow keen to support manufacture of civilian aircraft in India.

As Moscow is understood to be keen to encourage Russian companies Sukhoi JSC and United Aircraft Corporation JSC to manufacture civilian aircraft in India, Putin’s visit to New Delhi next week is likely to give a fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to woo foreign investment in manufacturing sector. Russia is also keen to substantially augment direct diamond trade with India, cutting down the role of middlemen in hubs like Antwerp, Dubai, Tel Aviv, London, New York and Hong Kong.

The Russian president’s visit to New Delhi is likely to give a boost to the Make-in-India campaign that Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched. Putin’s meeting with Modi is likely to see New Delhi and Moscow making a move forward for joint development and production of civilian aircraft Superjet 100 of Sukhoi and MS-21 of United Aircraft Corporation in India, which is yet to have a civilian plane manufacturing industry.

Modi and Putin on Thursday will also jointly attend the World Diamond Conference at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The conference is likely to see a deal being struck to pave the way for rough diamonds from mines in Russia being sent directly for cutting in India, thus bringing about a significant change in the way the precious stone is traded globally at present. 

With both United States and European Union imposing sanctions on Russia in the wake of secession of Crimea from Ukraine, Moscow is now encouraging its public and private sector companies to divert their investments from western nations to countries like China and India.

With Modi government keen to spur growth in manufacturing sector, New Delhi is also ready to open up for more Russian investment in India – notwithstanding US frowns.
India refrained from supporting Crimea’s secession from Ukraine in March this year, but acknowledged Russia’s legitimate interests in the region. New Delhi also opposed unilateral moves by US and EU to impose sanctions on Russia.

“India has said clearly that it cannot be party to any sanctions against Russia,” Ajay Bisaria, Joint Secretary (Eurasia) in the ministry of external affairs, said. He was briefing newspersons in New Delhi ahead of the Russian president’s visit for the annual bilateral summit with the prime minister. He noted that both New Delhi and Moscow had similar views on “multi-polarity as an important element in the global architecture and (on) the need to defuse the cold war-like tensions that are increasingly manifesting themselves in global relations.”

The US sought to play down Putin’s visit to India just about a month before American President Barack Obama himself is set to arrive in New Delhi to attend the Republic Day ceremony as chief guest.

“First, let’s wait and see what comes from the visit. I know there is a lot of rumours, often of trade deals or economic deals, but let's see what is actually put into practice here,” US State Department’s Deputy Press Secretary Marie Harf was quoted in a PTI report from Washington. “What we have said before, now is not the time for business as usual with Russia,” the US official added, apparently in a bid to dissuade India to strike big business deals with Russia.
 
Modi and Putin are also expected to jointly issue a document outlining their vision for the development of India-Russia relations over the next 10 years.

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