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Russia says in talks to make more military equipment in India

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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during a meeting in New Delhi, India, April 6, 2021

Russia and India are discussing the possibility of “additional” production of Russian military equipment in India, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Speaking at a joint news conference with India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Lavrov did not specify what kind of equipment could be made in India.

But, officials from both countries have said their goverments have been discussing for some years the possibility of making Russian military helicopters in India.

“We have confirmed our determination towards the development of military-technical cooperation,” Lavrov told the news conference, adding there was an inter-governmental commission dealing with the subject.

“It has its own plans, and the prospects for additional production of Russian military equipment on India’s territory are under discussion,” he said.

While such an agreement would fit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship make-in-India programme, it could irk the United States.

Lavrov said the United States has been trying to discourage countries from buying Russia weapons, but U.S. objections did not feature during his talks with Jaishankar, which had focused on deepening military ties.

Washington has already warned New Delhi that it could face sanctions if it goes through with the purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems under a deal struck in 2018, though it has not made the same threat over other Indian arms purchases from Russia.

The United States has urged India not to buy the S-400 air defence systems as it could trigger sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Turkey was sanctioned last year for buying the same equipment.

India made an initial payment of $800 million in 2019, and the first set of missile batteries are expected to be delivered towards the end of this year.