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December 19, 2012

Putin may announce $7 billion arms deal during India trip

Russian President Vladimir Putin may announce about $7 billion worth of weapons contracts, including for Sukhoi fighter jets, when he visits India next week, according to three people in the defence industry.
During Putin’s visit on 24 December, the two countries will announce contracts for 42 Sukhoi Su-30MKI jets, made by United Aircraft’s Irkut Corp., and almost 1,000 AL-31 warplane engines to be delivered through 2030, according to the three people who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment.
India, Russia’s top arms customer, has at least doubled its defence budget over the last decade as it looks beyond a traditional rivalry with Pakistan to counter China’s rising power. Putin, who returned to the presidency this year, has spearheaded Russia’s efforts to fend off competition for the contracts from the US and Europe.
“These will be truly historical deals if signed,” Konstantin Makiyenko, the deputy head of the Moscow-based Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said by phone on Monday. “I don’t remember a contract for 1,000 engines at all and deals for over 40 planes happen twice in a decade.”
Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman at the Indian ministry of external affairs, wasn’t available to comment. Vyacheslav Davidenko, a spokesman for Russia’s state-owned weapons exporter Rosoboronexport, declined to comment.
Russian defence-industry exports have exceeded $14 billion this year, higher than the government’s target, Putin said on Monday. The country has signed new contracts worth $15 billion in 2012, he added.
Then-defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov said 10 October that Russia expected to sign a deal to ship 42 Sukhoi jets to India by the end of the year, RIA Novosti news service reported.
India has already received about 150 Russian jets, according to CAST estimates.
 
- Livemint

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