Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

December 24, 2012

Russia, India sign weapons deals worth billions

NEW DELHI (AP) — Russia and India signed weapons deals worth billions of dollars Monday as President Vladimir Putin sought to further boost ties with an old ally.

Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed cooperation between their countries as officials signed a $1.6 billion deal for 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets that will be license-built in India from Russian components and a $1.3 billion contract for the delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters.

"We agreed to further strengthen the traditions of close cooperation in the military and technical areas," Putin said after the signing.

Singh said the talks included discussions on the security situation in the region, including Afghanistan.

"India and Russia share the objective of a stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, free from extremism," Singh told reporters after the talks.

Russia and India have shared close ties since the Cold War, when Moscow was a key ally and the principal arms supplier to New Delhi.

The ties slackened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but grew stronger again after Putin came to power in 2000, seeking to revive Moscow's global clout and restore ties with old allies.

While the volume of Russian-Indian trade has risen sixfold since 2000 and is expected to reach $10 billion this year, the growth has slowed in recent years. And even though India remains the No. 1 customer for Russia's arms industries, Moscow has recently lost several multibillion-dollar contracts to Western weapons makers.

Russia has maintained its strong positions in the Indian market with $30 billion worth of arms contracts with India signed in 2000-2010 that envisaged supplies of hundreds of fighter jets, missiles, tanks and other weapons, a large part of which were license-produced in India. The countries have cooperated on building an advanced fighter plane and a new transport aircraft, and have jointly developed a supersonic cruise missile for the Indian Navy.

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