India today inked three mega defence deals worth over Rs 60,000 crore with Russia that included purchase of a most advanced air defence missile system even as the two traditional allies strongly pitched for "zero tolerance" in dealing with terrorists and their supporters.
The deals as part of 16 pacts were signed here after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held "fruitful and substantive" wide-ranging talks encompassing entire gamut of bilateral ties. The two sides also made three announcements to boost ties in sectors like trade and investment, hydrocarbons, space and smart cities.
Modi prefaced his remarks at a joint press event with Putin invoking a Russian proverb to drive home the point that "an old friend is better than two new friends," in a reflection of India's apparent unhappiness over Russia's recent joint military exercise with Pakistan.
Besides the purchase of 'gamechanger' S-400 Triumf long- range air defence systems from Russia at a cost of about USD 5 billion (Rs 33,350 crore) the other two deals related to procuring four Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356) guided-missile stealth frigates and setting up of a joint production facility for making Kamov helicopters. The deals relating to the choppers and the frigates are worth about USD one billion (Rs 6,672 cr) and USD 3 billion.
The inking of these deals assumes significance since in in the recent past it was perceived that India, which had signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US providing access to Americans to Indian military bases, was drifting away from its traditional defence ally, Russia.
Modi appreciated Russia's understanding and support of India's actions to fight cross-border terrorism, an oblique reference to India's surgical strike across the Line of Control(LoC) last month targeting terror launch pads in PoK.
"Russia's clear stand on the need to combat terrorism mirrors our own. We deeply appreciate Russia's understanding and support of our actions to fight cross-border terrorism, that threatens our entire region.
"We both affirmed the need for zero tolerance in dealing with terrorists and their supporters," Modi said.
The two leaders also discussed Uri attack by Pak-based terrorists during their "restricted talks" segment after which the Indian Side expressed its appreciation for Russia's unequivocal condemnation of the attack on army base in which 19 soldiers were killed.
Putin, on his part, said both countries have close cooperation in fighting terrorism.
India, which has conveyed its opposition to Russia undertaking joint military exercises with Pakistan, a country which "sponsors and practices terrorism as a matter of State policy", also said it was "satisfied" about Russia understanding of its interests.
"We are satisfied that Russia understand India's interest and they will never do anything contrary to India's interest and I think there was a strong meeting of minds on this subject," Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said when asked about the Russian response to India's concern over the recent Pak-Russia joint military exercise.
Modi said the "highly productive" outcomes of the meeting clearly establish the special and privileged nature of strategic partnership between the two countries.
"They also lay the foundations for deeper defence and economic ties in years ahead. The agreements on manufacturing of Kamov 226T helicopters; constructions of frigates; and acquisition and building of other defence platforms are in synergy with India's technology and security priorities.