Russian Foreign Minister to visit India on April 5

New Delhi: Foreign, Defence Ministers seem to be making a beeline for India. Next week, the Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov will be in the country. His visit comes close on the heels of the recent visits of US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Defence Minister of South Korea Suh Wook.

Sources said “The visit is confirmed for next week. The dates for the visit is expected to be announced"

The focus of the visit of the Russian foreign minister is going to be on pending defence ventures including the S-400 Air Defence System, the manufacturing of the AK-47 203 rifles locally in India, production of helicopters in India, the long pending P-75i submarine project and other related projects.

Also on the agenda of talks would be the forthcoming BRICS summit, the Indo-Pacific Region, Quad, Peace talks in Afghanistan, as well as other issues of mutual interest. Besides meeting with his Indian counterpart Dr S Jaishankar, the Russian minister is likely to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Manufacturing of AK-47 203 Rifles In India

“All the issues related to the delay in the manufacturing of these rifles is expected to start soon,” a source confirmed. The AK-47 203 is the most advanced version of the AK-47 rifle, and as has been reported earlier will be used for replacing the Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56×45 mm assault rifle.

How Many Does India Need?

According to reports the Indian army has a requirement for around 770,000 or more of AK-47 203 rifles. As per the contract the first 100,000 of 7.62×39 mm Russian weapons will be imported and the rest will be manufactured in India at Korwa Ordnance Factory, Amethi Distt, UP.

More About The Joint Venture

As has been reported by Financial Express Online earlier, they will be manufactured in India under a joint venture — Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL). This venture has been established by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), the Kalashnikov Concern and Rosoboronexport.

The OFB will be holding a 50.5 per cent in IRRPL and the Russian company will hold 42 per cent and Rosoboronexport would own the remaining 7.5 per cent.

What Will Be The Cost of Per Rifle?

The cost of the rifle was one of the issues that was holding up the manufacturing. “This matter has been sorted out. And the production will be starting very soon. Besides the Indian Army, several State governments have expressed interest in these rifles,” a top source said.

The cost of the rifle includes the cost of technology transfer and the money invested in setting up the manufacturing unit.

The State governments have expressed interest in AK-103, which they want for their Para military forces.

What is going to be manufactured in India is the AK-203 — a 7.62x39mm calibre rifle, this is a derivative of the world’s most popular AK-47, which has been in use by various militaries and terror groups since 1949.

In 2018 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Russian President Vladimir Putin had reached an agreement on producing Kalashnikov rifles in India. And, the Indian Army had announced the appointment of Major General Sanjeev Senger as the Chief Executive Officer of IRRPL to ensure timely deliveries.

What Does The Indian Army Require?

It has an urgent requirement of two different rifles — a lighter assault rifle which is going to be used by the infantry troops and rifle which has a high rate of fire and to be used to guard long stretches of borders which are close to Pakistan and China.

The visit of the Russian Foreign minister is of importance. There will be discussions on the formalized Leaders summit of the Quad (India, Japan, Australia and the US), the military drills involving the Quad members in the Indian Ocean region, the US discouraging India for going ahead with the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system and the ongoing peace talks with Afghanistan.

What About The Pending India-Russia Annual Summit?

This will come up for discussions with the external affairs minister as dates have to be fixed for the summit. The Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to come to India later this year. No dates have been confirmed yet.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, “Due to the global lockdown in 2020, the summit level talks could not take place.”

The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is going to be accompanied by Russian special envoy to Afghanistan, Ambassador Zamir Kabulov. Last month, Moscow had hosted a meeting of the ‘extended troika’ to take stock of the Intra-Afghan dialogue. During the talks there were representatives from the US, China and Pakistan.

Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan will brief India about the intra-Afghanistan dialogue which is going on under the Moscow format.

While Russia acknowledges and understands India’s comprehensive vision of the Indo-Pacific which is constructed on the basis of International law, it has reservations and objections about the Quad Dialogue, says an expert.

“China is an important ally of Russia in its efforts to maintain a multipolar world, where the nations have an out-and-out autonomy in domestic and external concerns and do not have to understand world politics through the lens of the US,” opines Rashi Randev, Centre for American Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.