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India admits setback with Russia over defence delivery delays

Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier under construction at Russian shipyard

DABOLIM (PTI): Admitting "setbacks" in its relations with Russia over delays in defence supplies, India said the two sides have signed an agreement which will help in improving the product support from that country.

"There may be delays and setbacks sometimes but we have a long relationship with Russia... There have been delays in delivery and product support in the past. But after the signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia, issues have been sorted out, things are moving faster now," Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters after the induction of Russian-made MiG-29K maritime fighters into the Navy at a ceremony here on Friday.

He was asked if India needed to review its defence relations with Russia in view of the delays in delivery of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and various other defence supplies.

India had placed orders for Admiral Gorshkov in 2004 as part of a USD 1.5 billion deal and it was supposed to arrive in India in 2008 after refurbishment in Russian shipyards but the delivery has been delayed after constant review of its price by Russia.

Russia is now asking India to give USD 2.9 billion more for the trials and refurbishment of the 44,500 tonne warship, which India is not willing to pay.

The Defence Minister said the negotiations on the price issue are in "final stages".
Antony said in the next couple of years, India is planning to induct a couple of aircraft carriers, including the Admiral Gorshkov and the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier.

He said India was expanding its relations with other countries, including the US, but "that doesn't affect our relations with Russia and it will be strengthened further."

In reply to a query on India's plans to procure more MiG-29Ks, the Minister said, "We have already placed orders for 16 of these aircraft. In the second batch, we will place orders for 29 more as the Navy has shown interest in it.

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