RUSSIAN-INDIAN COOPERATION IN THE CHANGING STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENT

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 09:41

Lecture by the Ambassador of Russia to India, H.E. Mr Alexander Kadakin, at the National Defence College

New Delhi, April 26, 2016

Esteemed Officiating Commandant,

Dear Friends,

It is a matter of high honour for me to be here this morning after a gap of about two years. As I promised last time, we will observe the good tradition of regular interactions with your prestigious institution.

At the same time, our meeting is not just a traditional or trivial affair. It is rather timely and relevant in the context of Russian-Indian relations and the unfolding global scenario in general. Two months ago, Russia passed the baton of BRICS presidency to India. Next summit of the group of five will be held in October in Goa. Prior to this high profile event the two leaders ̶ President Putin and Premier Modi ̶ will hold top level bilateral negotiations within the framework of annual summits. Both the events will give a powerful boost to stronger cooperation between Russia and India both bilaterally, multilaterally and internationally. Moreover, we expect the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Summit in Tashkent in June to take momentous decisions on starting India’s full-fledged membership in this prestigious organization.

May I add to this a few important historical dates. On August 9 this year we will mark 45 years since the signing of the historic Soviet-Indian Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation, which not only laid a solid foundation of a strong partnership between our two nations, but was also instrumental in changing India’s strategic environment forever. Another remarkable date – in November we will observe the 30th Anniversary of a unique bilateral political document – the Delhi Declaration on the principles of a Nuclear Free and Non-violent World, which, for the first time in history of diplomacy, united the goal to rid human civilization from the nuclear threat with the postulates of ahimsa, non-violence, advocated by Mahatma Gandhi. All this emphasizes the relevance of today’s theme – Russian-Indian Cooperation in the Changing Strategic Environment.

To begin with, let us summarize, what exactly today’s strategic environment is, and how it is changing. In short, there is not much room for optimism. After the cold war, there was a great sense of enthusiasm that the world could and should become multipolar. Now, this goal seems to be even more distant, while unilateral approach is still threatening global peace, stability and equal development.

The United States continues to unequivocally believe in its “God-gifted” exclusiveness, attempting to judge what other nations need and should do. Nowadays its geopolitical goals achieved by means of geostrategic engineering, include forceful change of regimes and all-out use of double or even triple standards. What it says about terrorism or human rights has nothing to do with the international law or mutual respect. We see continuous efforts to undermine the UN-based principles of cooperation, primarily sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs. Yes, sometimes they begin to recognize their “mistakes”, for example, in Libya, but such “mistakes” have claimed thousands of lives and ruined that independent state, fuelling dangerous instability in North Africa, the Middle East and worldwide.

Of course, it is better late than never, but there have been too many such “mistakes” – former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. It all happened because the Americans would not listen to anyone else. Ultimately, those geopolitical blunders led to the creation of the so-called “Islamic State” or ISIS. Radical ideology of this terrorist group was developed by officers of the Iraqi army destroyed after the military intervention from outside.

In order to crush international terrorism, we must make it clear – whom we are fighting. There should be no room for double standards, distinction between “good” terrorists and “bad” terrorists. We need real, not declarative, will to cooperate within the universally accepted UN framework, not diminishing the role of states by excessively empowering NGOs, which are often used as tools for intervention in domestic affairs.

After signing the Geneva Communique in June 2012 it took almost four years to more or less reach a common understanding that the process of settlement in Syria will be successful only if it is led by the Syrians themselves, without interference from outside, with full respect to the national and international law.

The Russian military assistance, officially requested by the legitimate government of Syria, seriously undermined the potential of ISIS, but the danger of terrorism still exists if you do not pay enough attention to combating this menace. Russia has withdrawn a substantial segment of its forces, but we made sure that the Syrian army would be ready to carry out attacks against terrorists with our remaining support. Our joint efforts allowed the Syrian army to regain Palmyra and a number of other strategic towns.

The ceasefire, declared in Syria on February 27, 2016, is observed in most regions of the country. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, 50 Syrian opposition units have declared their commitment to the ceasefire plan. Over 60 Syrian cities and communities have joined the ceasefire agreement between the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the opposition.

At the same time, ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups operating in the Aleppo, Homs, Hama and Damascus provinces are still trying to infiltrate government-controlled territories for subsequent terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage. Weapons and ammunition are smuggled through the Turkish-Syrian border.

However, in case the current ceasefire fails, any attempts to deliver modern weapons systems, including anti-aircraft and anti-artillery weaponry, to militants in Syria for implementation of the so-called Plan B are unacceptable. In this context, Russia urges all international and regional players that have influence over Syrian opposition groups to persuade them to respect and follow the terms of ceasefire in the interests of promoting a political settlement based on the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

Political solution is the only way to resolve the crisis in Syria. Russia confirms the unwavering commitment to the agreements to hold another round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. It also requires full involvement of as many representatives of the domestic political spectre as possible, including the Kurds.

The positive development is that on April 13, 2016, the people of Syria elected the People’s Council (Parliament) in accordance with the constitution. These elections allow to maintain the legitimate government functioning.

Russia has serious concerns about maintaining the strategic stability. The suspension of the Anti-Ballistic Treaty has freed the hands of those who deploy anti-missile defence systems all over the world, first of all in Europe. We were told at that time, that such systems were necessary to contain threats allegedly posed by Iran and the then uncertainties around the Iranian Nuclear Programme. Now, when the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan is already implemented, why are they still there? Even placement of THAAD systems on the Korean Peninsula amid rising tensions in the region is not the way to settle the North Korean Nuclear Problem. Vice versa!

In this context, does India really need to sign the LSA?

We are facing principally the same approach when it comes to negotiations about how to start the Conference on Disarmament (CD). Unfortunately, there is little progress in dialogue on Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space. These countries that refuse to provide any guarantees regarding the use of weapons under their controversial draft Code of Conduct, still block under various pretexts further negotiations on adopting the universal and binding Treaty on Prohibition of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space.

In order to gain political advantages, they are even ready to compromise the Shannon Mandate in the framework of the discussion of a draft Fissile Materials Cut Off Treaty. As a result, a start of the CD became even a more remote dream. We hope that the Russian proposal to work on the Convention on Prevention of Acts of Chemical and Biological Terrorism will keep alive the prospects of the Conference.

Not to mention the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East, which was literally buried at the last moment at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT-RC) in 2015. In order to implement the NPT-RC mandate to hold the relevant regional conference Russia in cooperation with other like-minded states initiated the proposals, reflecting the concerns of all regional parties, including the fixation of the principle of consensus. However, this initiative was blocked by the Western powers due to political reasons. The idea of the event is still to be materialized, but it might take another five years.

What is happening in Afghanistan? We witness an extreme lack of clear strategy for national reconciliation due to a very simple reason – the participants of the present Quadrilateral Coordination format have different priorities. In fact, what is really required is the understanding that the leading role belongs to the concerned regional powers, which - if not tomorrow, then the day after - will inevitably face an uncontrolled collapse of the government institutions in Afghanistan. It will be followed by an unprecedented spread of terrorism and radicalism that will easily infiltrate our national borders. It is still an open question - who is sponsoring, indulging and supporting ISIS in Afghanistan. We need to be united in helping the Afghan people to build the statehood they want, and provide them not with occasional but with targeted, sustainable and long-term economic, political and military assistance.

Everybody is tired and bored when all these people speak about Ukraine. On each and every occasion, appropriate or not, we are told that the Minsk Agreements should be implemented. Indeed, they should, and Russia fully support them. Better tell it to the puppet government in Kiev, which is still refusing to go ahead with constitutional and administrative reforms, which are the №1 article of the Minsk agreements, to maintain cease-fire and to withdraw heavy weapons from the border with the southeastern part of that country.

Again, geopolitical engineering mechanisms are used in a most cynical manner. Playing the card of problems linked to self-identification, the Ukrainian elite is misguided by false and never-to-be-realized promises of economic and financial paradise after assistance from and integration with the West. We will never recognize unilaterally imposed sanctions, which are nothing but a tool of illegal political pressure. This is a road to nowhere.

Russia, like none else, understands how severe the political crisis in Ukraine is, and is ready to provide all support to our brotherly nation. Russia is absolutely O.K. with the desire of the Ukrainians to develop relations with the West, if it is not against our economic and security interests, which must be respected by everyone.

In order to continue influencing global economic and financial order, those countries abuse their leading roles in the international financial institutions and create new alienation lines by setting up closed and discriminatory trading blocks.

These are just a few problems out of the list which is much longer. Nevertheless, multipolarity remains our long-term strategic priority, and regardless of any obstacles on our way, we shall firmly advance in this direction with other like-minded countries, inviting the rest of the world to join this dialogue. Nothing but cooperation of equals can ensure global stability. Where you have mutual respect, there remains no room for double standards.

That is what really makes the special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India natural and unique. Our priorities are very close and in many cases identical. That is why our common goal is to further develop the format of BRICS. Being a forum of the countries with various national aspirations and advantages, BRICS represents an alliance of equals, which defends a vision alternative to the Western-sponsored unilateral approach to global issues.

We are increasingly enhancing coordination in the international arena. It pertains to the consultations in the framework of the UN, including Human Rights Council, Global Counterterrorism Strategy, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, etc. We are on the same page whatever development, multilateral trading system, non-proliferation, space exploration, climate change and other vital issues concerned. We have a similar understanding of ways to resolve regional crises, including those in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine.

Russia strongly supports the priorities of the Indian Presidency in BRICS, which are basically aimed at effective implementation of our Leaders’ decisions and ensuring continuity by creating an even stronger foundation for bringing our cooperation to a higher level.

Our joint efforts are aimed at making the New Development Bank highly efficient, providing a brilliant opportunity to nicely fit our nations into the changing global financial architecture.

The BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy takes a lot of efforts as well. We are ready to further enhance education, science and technology, business-to-business and people-to-people contacts. We are fully confident about the future of BRICS, and wish our Indian friends every success in all their presidential endeavours.

Moreover, Russia is also a decisive supporter of the India’s full-fledged accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is becoming a leading mechanism of ensuring peace, development and stability in our common region. With India as a global power onboard, we will collaborate on tackling challenges and threats of terrorism, extremism and drug-trafficking more effectively.

Taking into account the growing demands and capacity of India, extending banking, energy security and business interaction within the SCO will boost the potential of economic integration in the region to the full.

As you know, the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China held their annual trilateral meeting in Moscow one week ago. The exchange of views confirmed similar approach to the situation in the Middle East, including Syria, and North Africa as well as Afghanistan and Ukraine. The Foreign Ministers stressed the importance of further cooperation across various multilateral venues, including the UN, the East Asia Summits, the ASEAN Regional Forum. We have also agreed to strengthen global positions of BRICS and the SCO.

Russia, India and China share the views that the current rapid changes dictate the need for stepping up our collaborative work centred on finding the best answers to numerous challenges. This work is based on international law, the central role of the UN and mutual respect.

There is a common understanding of the need to reform international monetary and financial systems, to jointly respond to cross-border security threats, primarily trans-border terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking to prevent access by terrorist groups to weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.

Russia, India and China agreed to collectively support the establishment of an open and inclusive architecture of equal and indivisible security for all in the Asia-Pacific, relying on generally accepted international legal principles, with a view toward elaborating a generally acceptable and legally binding document.

Growing trust, mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India have a powerful impact on regional stability. It is not just the natural choice to strengthen multifaceted cooperation and foreign policy coordination, it is the way to defend our common principles and ideals.

 

Military and military-technical cooperation

Military and military-technical cooperation has always been our top priority. It will not be an exaggeration to say that hardly you will find many countries in today’s world, if any at all, which could claim that they enjoy the same level of collaboration and confidentiality in this sphere as Russia and India do. Our ties are rightfully characterized as time-tested, mutually beneficial and trustworthy. They were initiated back in the 1960s and have been successfully developing ever since.

The current decade has seen unprecedented upswing in our contacts, which include regular official visits of our defence ministers and delegations, friendly calls of naval ships to the ports of both countries, joint operational and combat training. In 2015 a special hotline was put into operation enabling our Ministers of Defence to discuss the pressing issues of bilateral cooperation directly.

The year 2016 is extremely eventful. Our vast defence agenda includes official visits of the Russian Minister of Defence and the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, staff talks between the General Staff of Russia and the Integrated Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces, and many other activities.

We enjoy a splendid record of joint military drills, which are held on an annual basis. Well-established contacts between the militaries of our countries manifest themselves through regular joint land, naval and air exercises such as INDRA, international All Arms Games in Russia, the tank biathlon. What could be more symbolic for Russian-Indian defence ties than the Indian Army contingent, marching last May along the Red Square in Moscow in the parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of our joint Victory in the WWII?

Today India remains our main partner in military and technical sphere with more than 30% on Russia’s defence exports falling on India. May I remind you that about 70% of the equipment in the Indian Armed Forces are of Soviet and Russian origin. These figures tell for themselves. It is heartening that over the recent years our interaction has evolved into a full-fledged win-win partnership and transited from supply of end products to technology transfer, joint research and development. Needless to say, it is characterized by the highest level of confidentiality and goodwill. Viewing India as our prime strategic partner and time-tested friend, we are ready to share with New Delhi our cutting-edge and most sophisticated technologies and achievements. For India, we have no secrets. The Programme for Military and Technical Cooperation between our countries up to 2020 along with over 20 intergovernmental agreements form the legal and operational framework for supplies of the Russian defence products to India. The portfolio of contracts signed has already reached USD 35-40 bln.

India is vital for the Russian defence establishment. In 2013, India accounted for around 35% of all Russian arms exports, and brought USD 4.7 bln in revenues to the domestic defence industry. The best-known example is the joint venture BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited that successfully designs and manufactures best-in-the-world supersonic cruise missiles for the Indian Armed Forces and is currently negotiating prospects of its export to third countries.

The list of our joint projects is so long that I will not dare to enumerate all of them and will name just a few major ones. These are the INS “Vikramaditya”, lease of the nuclear submarine “Chakra”, three batches of frigates (project 1135.6), licensed production of the T-90S/SK and T-72M tanks, SU-30 MKI aircraft, BMP-2 infantry combat vehicle, deliveries of 150 Mi-17V-5 transport helicopters. Another big deal that is worth mentioning is the recently singed contract between Russia and India for supply and production of 200 Russian light helicopters Ka-226T jointly with HAL.

May I draw your attention to the fact that most of these projects are absolutely in tune with “Make in India” programme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Actually, this programme is not a novelty for our bilateral cooperation. We have always, for more than six decades, been working in India according to this principle ab origin. The graphic examples are the steel plants at Bhilai and Bokaro, the HAL factory producing planes as well as about 70 projects standing on Indian soil.

Many more projects are yet to fructify and they definitely will in the near future. The attention of Indian ministries and industries towards Russia’s exposition during “DefExpo – 2016” is yet another proof that our country has a lot to offer. Two most significant, and undoubtedly truly strategic projects – they were under discussion at the meeting between President Putin and Premier Modi during the December bilateral summit in Moscow – include purchase of the S-400 air defence systems and the impressive naval program. Once implemented they will considerably increase India’s defence potential and significantly contribute to peace and stability in the South Asian region.

One more point. These days it has become kind of a fashion to speculate about Russia allegedly gradually losing out in the Indian defence market. May I assure you that it is not the case. According to the latest report by SIPRI, the most authoritative and prestigious institute in Stockholm, published in February 2016, in 2011–2015, India and China were the top five importers of major weapons. Russia stands first among major suppliers to India with 70% share, followed by USA – 14% and Israel – 4.5%.

So, all kind of wishful thinking about US sidelining Russia in defence business is either a sign of incompetence or a deliberate falsehood to be implanted in people’s mind. Firstly, Russia has never sought a monopoly in India's defence cooperation with other countries. Secondly, we understand India’s approach that dependence on a single country is detrimental to one’s national interests. More so, competition from such countries as the USA, France, Israel or Germany has never been a matter of concern to us, since we know (as well the Indian Government) that these countries will never go beyond an established restrictive line which exclude genuine technology transfer and equal cooperation. Russia, as you well know, has no restrictive lines in defence cooperation with New Delhi.

We in no way assume that if India has undertaken a policy of rapprochement with Western partners, it is moving away from Russia or drifting towards the US. If India finds anything better elsewhere, we do not feel jealous. Our relationship has a separate niche in the changing strategic environment. Honesty is the yardstick of our goals. We do want to see this country strong. Ties between Russia and India are a unique world phenomenon, and we are confident that our special and privileged strategic partnership will continue to grow. As a bedrock it has been there, is there and will remain there – for the benefit of our nations and for the sake of global peace, security and prosperity.

 

 

 

 

 

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