WRAPUP 2-Warm Russian, Indian ties outlive Cold War

* Russian, India confirm strong ties

* Russia, India to jointly develop stealth fighter jet

* Medvedev visits Taj Mahal, Bollywood

(Changed dateline to MUMBAI; adds reaction, details)

By Alexei Anishchuk

MUMBAI, Dec 22 (BestGrowthStock) – Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev’s warm reception in India, including wrapping up a
stealth jet fighters deal potentially worth $35 billion,
dispels Russian fears its former Cold War ally has turned to
the West.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has in the space of a
few months hosted all the leaders of the five permanent
members of the U.N. Security Council, said “Russia is a
time-tested friend of India” at the start of Medvedev’s
two-day trip on Tuesday.

“In the past few weeks a number of heads of state have
made visits to India. India has emerged as one of the fastest
and (most) powerful economies with plus 8 percent GDP growth
rate,” Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said on Wednesday in New
Delhi.

“In the whole world only India and China could withstand
the recession in the past. This shows the resilience of India
and its increasing role in world politics and economy,” he said.

Russia has been India’s close economic and political
partner since Soviet days, and monopolised India’s defence
market for decades, but India has been steadily reducing its
reliance on one country to reflect its growing influence on
the world stage.

“President Dmitry Medvedev has done well to dispel the
growing misperception that Indo-Russian relations have lost
their salience amidst India’s new warmth with the U.S. and the
West,” the Indian Express newspaper said in an editorial.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Medvedev will spend his last day in India visiting the Taj
Mahal in Agra, meeting students in Mumbai and touring
“Bollywood” film studios, a big export industry to Russia.

Medvedev, a photography buff who frequently posts his own
photos on the Internet, took pictures of the 17th century
monument dedicated to love, the state-run news agency RIA said.

“The Taj Mahal is a unique achievement of mankind,”
Mevedev wrote in the guest book.

Russia joined the United States and France in offering
support for India for a permanent seat at an expanded Security
Council to reflect the growing might of emerging economies.

India says a seat on the Security Council would reflect
the G20 nation’s importance as its $1.3 trillion economy helps
spur global growth and its government exerts more and more
influence over issues from Doha trade to climate talks.

Reform is unlikely to happen quickly, however, with China
decidedly lukewarm about admitting its regional rival to the
U.N. top table.

India’s growing ties with the United States, underscored
by a landmark civil nuclear deal, has made Russia ill at ease.

India, the second fastest-growing major economy in the
world after China, is one of the top arms importers and plans
to spend about $50 billion on defence in the next few years to
upgrade its ageing Soviet-era arsenal, mainly to counter a
perceived China threat.

World leaders, accompanied by top executives, are hungry
to secure a slice of India’s largely undeveloped economy,
expected to grow at near-double digit rates for the next
decade, making it one of the five largest economies in the
world by 2020.

BARGAINING POWER

Russia has long seen India, which has a tradition of
trying to ensure it does not walking a careful line to avoid
backing one camp over another, as a counterweight to China and
a potential ally in Afghanistan.

“The strategic, economic and political importance of
Russia can not be overstated,” said Bhaskar Roy, a New
Delhi-based strategic affairs columnist.

“India needs Russia for its energy requirements, to
counter-balance China, for retaining influence in Afghanistan
once the Western troops leave, for influence in energy-rich
Central Asia, and generally for support and backing at all
major international fora. India needs Russia to realise its
ambitions, global goals,” Roy said.

No details were given as to the size of the potential
aircraft deal between Russia and India, but both countries
have in the past talked about producing 250-300 such fighters
over 10 years, unofficially said to be worth about $35 billion.

“That in turn has enormously increased India’s bargaining
power with the U.S. and European suppliers of advanced
conventional weapons,” the Indian Express said.

Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, France’s Dassault
Rafale, Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-16,
Russia’s MiG-35, Sweden’s Saab (SAABb.ST: ) JAS-39 Gripen and
the Eurofighter Typhoon are
competing for a separate order from India for 126 fighter
jets, valued at about $10.4 billion.

India and Russia agreed to open talks on building a third
and fourth reactors for a nuclear power plant in India’s
southern state of Tamil Nadu, but failed to sign a firm deal
because of Russian concerns over a recently passed liabilities
bill.
(Additional reporting Krittivas Mukherjee and C.K. Nayak in
NEW DELHI and Steve Gutterman in MOSCOW; Writing by Paul de
Bendern; Editing by Robert Birsel and Alex
Richardson)

WRAPUP 2-Warm Russian, Indian ties outlive Cold War