Russia is a friend, an ally and not a business partner. Russia stood by India during its darkest hours. Next year will?mark 70 years of our relationship. It is a long time,” he said and noted that Russia had stood by India when it faced sanctions after the 1998 nuclear tests.
“Not so in the recent past, when India was under sanctions, we were pretty much the only partner for India. “Russia has been a partner not only in every day military supplies but also most sensitive and most important supplies including a nuclear submarine which was rented to India for you to use,” said Chemezov who is also a close aide of Russian President Vladmir Putin.
“Come to think about it, I would not imagine any other country to do that, he said. Not in the past or in the future. I cannot imagine US or Europe giving India such a strategic asset,” he said when asked about the tough competition that US and Europe are giving to Russia in the Indian defence market. Not only did Russia lease out a nuclear powered submarine, it actively helped in the building India’s first indigenous nuclear weapon carrying capable submarine INS Arihant which has been inducted into the Indian Navy.
Chemezov said “it is a very special year for us and will be marked by major projects and things are starting already.” He, however, admitted that from a third person’s point of view, there might have been some decline in some areas of defense between the two countries. US and some European countries have managed to strike mega deals with India which the Russians were also competing for.
“It is not a linear sort of relationship. We feel that ties are definitely developing and increasing,” he said. Giving example of the deadly BrahMos missile, Chemezov said that not only has Russia delivered high value equipment but has also collaborated with India on developing strategic assets.
He pointed out that in late 1990s, Russia had transferred technology for Su30 MKI, India’s frontline fighter aircraft. “At that point of time, it was our most modern equipment, our most modern plane. When we had actually signed that agreement, Russia did not even equip its army with this.This was basically our newest highest technology. That shows and speaks about our relationship with India,” he said.