Ukraine, the first formerly Soviet republic to experience a peaceful transfer of power via the ballot box, plans to break the ‘Russian monopoly’ in India. Kiev recently launched a serious effort to export defence equipment to the South Asian country.
Perto Fedoruk, the Chief Adviser of Ukroboronprom – Ukraine’s largest defence industry consortium, has said that they are ready to supply modern arms and ammunitions to the Indian forces. Fedoruk blamed Russia for blocking Ukraine’s entry into the Indian market, saying: “For nearly a decade, Russia has forcefully blocked our entry. We have offered multiple solutions to give new life to Soviet-era weaponry (with Indian defence forces), as we are the original equipment manufacturer. We are now in India for the long term to manage Soviet-era headaches, which India cannot manage alone.”
Meanwhile, head of Ukroboronprom naval projects Nikolay Gordienko thanked India for allowing the consortium to take part in various defence programmes and to manage and refit Admiral Gorshkov or INS Vikramaditya, the Soviet-era aircraft carrier. According to Gordienko, New Delhi will certainly accept Ukroboronprom’s offer that is 50% cheaper than the Russian offer.
Deputy Director General (Strategy) of Ukroboronprom Artur Kheruvymov, too, believes that the Indian Navy will accept their proposal to overhaul and maintenance of gas turbines used in Delhi-class warships and the Admiral Gorshkov after evaluating the offer. Kheruvymov even said that India might organise a “joint military technical commission for providing service support for Soviet-era weaponry”.
The Ukrainian officials are hopeful that their earnings from defence trade with India could jump to USD 500 million from the current USD 100 million in the next three years, as the two countries have signed more than 700 contracts in the last decade. A senior Ukrainian diplomat stressed that they have managed to make a breakthrough and now it is up to India to decide whether to buy major defence items, like the electronic support measure system and Vympel R-27 medium-range air-to-air missiles, from them. The electronic support measure system is used to detect and track stealth aircraft. Ukraine has also offered to develop multiple rocket launcher systems with a range of 100km, similar to Russian Grad systems, jointly with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). “In addition, we will also be developing a variety of new electronic warfare systems with DRDO and a partnership has been sealed recently,” added Fedoruk.
India had scrapped defence ties with Ukraine in the early 1990s when Kiev supplied T-80 U tanks to Pakistan. Recently, Kiev started taking necessary steps to negate the strains in the bilateral relationship. The move has helped Ukraine bag a contract from India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics for supplying crucial spares for Russian Sukhoi aircraft.