Feb 13 (Reuters) – Russia supplied India with around $13 billion of arms in the past five years, and New Delhi has placed orders with Moscow for weapons and military equipment exceeding $10 billion, Russian state news agencies reported late on Sunday.
India is the world’s biggest buyer of Russian arms, accounting for around 20% of Moscow’s current order book, and New Delhi has not explicitly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for dialogue and diplomacy to solve the conflict, now in its 12th month.
Scores of Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia, including on arms, in response to the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.
India, China and some Southeast Asian countries have maintained their interest in buying Russian arms, according to Dmitry Shugayev, the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, the agencies reported.
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“Despite the unprecedented pressure on India from Western countries led by the United States in connection with Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, it continues to be one of Russia’s main partners in the field of military-technical cooperation,” Interfax agency quoted Shugayev as saying.
Annual arms exports were about $14 billion to $15 billion, and the order book has remained steady at around $50 billion, Interfax reported.
Asian customers are particularly interested in Russia’s S-400 Triumf missile defence systems, short-range surface-to-air missiles systems such as the Osa, Pechora or Strela, as well as Su-30 and MiG-29 warplanes, helicopters and drones, Shugayev said.
Another Russian military official was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that Moscow was currently producing S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems for India and intended to complete the deliveries on time.
Russia’s TASS state news agency reported that Russia will present about 200 samples of weapons and military equipment at the 14th international aerospace exhibition Aero India 2023, which opens on Monday in Bengaluru.
India is scouting for billions of dollars worth of military planes, completing jetliner deals to meet civilian demand and pressing global aircraft manufacturers to produce more locally at the show this week.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne, additional reporting by Caleb Davis. Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Jamie Freed