Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostec State Corporation and a close aide of President Vladmir Putin, has hinted that the Russian company is ready strike a multi-billion dollar deal with India to manufacture six conventional submarines for the South Asian country.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Chemezov recently said that submarines with Air Independent Propulsion systems would be built under the P75-I project of India. According to Rostec supremo, they are eager to bag the USD 12 billion deal, as the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi has planned to invite Moscow to join various defence projects launched by the PM. Chemezov described Russia as India’s “close ally” and not just a business partner, saying that Kremlin stood by India in its “darkest hours” in the past. He further said that Russia would do the same in future, if necessary.

The Rostec chief stressed that it would never be possible for the Americans and Europeans to offer India what Moscow could. “We are ready not just to deliver most serious weapons, most important weapons, but continue to give our state of art technology. Next year will mark 70 years of our relationship. It is a long time,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chemezov urged India not to forget that Moscow had stood by New Delhi when it faced sanctions after the 1998 nuclear tests, saying that there was no limit to what India and Russia could do together. “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 that was rented to India for you to use,” he told the press.

Asked how the US and some European countries managed to strike mega defence deals with India despite the strong Indo-Russia ties, Chemezov played it safe. “It is not a linear sort of relationship. We feel that ties are definitely developing and increasing,” answered Chemezov. He informed the media that Russia recently submitted its proposals for the P75-I project and was awaiting for India’s positive reply.

Foreign policy experts are of the opinion that it is in the interests of President Putin and Prime Minister Modi to show cordial relations between the two countries, each for different reasons. As Russia’s actions in Crimea and Syria have strained its relation with the West, Moscow is trying hard to show that it has “close friends and allies” around the world. For PM Modi, it is important to show that his government’s foreign policy remains diversified and balanced. In recent times, a section of international community and the Indian population has termed Modi’s foreign policy as “pro-American”, thus putting the government under tremendous pressure.

The top political leadership in Moscow is stronger at tactics and short-term planning, than at strategy and long-term foreign policy. On the other hand, the Indian leadership is stronger at strategy and long-term policy. So, we may hope that close co-operation will allow both Moscow and New Delhi to develop strong defence strategies that will make tactical gains in future.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]