If seen in totality what has been offered by Moscow is much more than Washington DC would ever agree to, no matter how many assurances and guarantees are provided by New Delhi. To that extent, old time-tested friendships, it would appear, are far more rewarding than new alliances. Tragically, this simple fact is lost on the Prime Minister who is easily impressed, if not persuaded, by the Americans as has been witnessed ever since the UPA came to power in 2004.
If a dispassionate comparison were to be made between Mr. Singh’s visit to Washington, DC and his meeting with US President Barack Obama, and his talks with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev as well as the clutch of agreements, including the crucial Programme of Military and Technical Cooperation for 2011-2020, then it would be obvious that Moscow wishes to enhance bilateral relations through concrete measures and not vacuous talk. It would be pertinent to note, that while Obama has been keen on excluding India from his Afghanistan strategy for whatever it is worth analysts believe it is not worth the paper it is printed on Mr. Medvedev has unhesitatingly sought our cooperation for ensuring what has been described as a “stable and prosperous Afghanistan” and in dealing with terrorism in the region, which means Pakistan. Of course, we cannot entirely ignore the proverbial slip between the cup and the lip. Our recent experience with supplies of Russian military hardware has been far from satisfactory, this is best exemplified by the huge delay and enormous cost overruns in refitting “Admiral Gorshkov”, for the Indian Navy. There are other issues linked to defence supplies, too which require urgent attention for India to view Russia as a reliable source and dependable supplier.
Most of these issues are linked not to bilateral relations but internal problems which are for Moscow to resolve. And the sooner Russia does that, the better it shall be for its own image as well as its role in a multipolar world: It makes little or no sense to let the US emerge as the sole dependable ally for those who choose to make common cause with the Americans on American terms, or are forced into accepting those arms in the absence of any option. Hopefully, Russia has realised that it has left the field open for far too long and will now get busy with making amends. For the moment, we must wait for Moscow to walk the talk and keep the promises it has made. Only very few countries are capable of supplying sophisticated arms and weaponry, conforming to the ‘state of the Art Technology under their proprietary rights and there is no monopoly or cartel; but they are all confronting severe competition in the international market in view of the protracted negotiation for colossal price. The Russians are inevitably fully alive to the situation and are aware of the client-country’s perceptions.
Understandably for reason of protecting their commercial intelligence and proprietary name, the Russians must be scaling up their technology in sophisticated defence equipment weaponry. However it is incumbent upon the Defence Ministry to arrange inspection through the armed forces, so as to ensure that the retrofitted and refurbished Gorshkov fully conforms to the state of the Art Technology”.