India and Russia, close military allies since the 1950s, are looking for closer co-operation during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Moscow on November 5 with the possible signing of the Reciprocal Logistics Support Agreement (RLSA).
The signing of the RLSA is on the anvil, high-level defence sources said; India and the United States had signed the LEMOA or Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement three years ago. Both sides are working to ensure that the agreement, to be signed by Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart, General Sergey Shoygu, is ready for signing in the next ten days.
The likely signing comes in the wake of the two countries signing a deal for S-400 air-defense systems and frigates and the USA’s disapproval. India has made it clear to the United States that India will continue its relationship with Russia to further its national interest. The point that the Soviets supplied weapons systems from the late fifties when no one else was ready to have been made.
This will allow both countries to use each other’s ports, airbases and military areas for logistical purposes. For example, if a Russian ship wants to refuel in Chennai, it can do so automatically and vice-versa.
While the signing is something both countries were keen on, one reason for it is climate change. Global warming is likely to ensure the arctic seaports of Russia are ice-free for longer periods every year. As a result, India could be more likely to use them in the future.
This will be Rajnath Singh’s first visit to Moscow as Defence Minister. He will be visiting Uzbekistan on November 1 for discussions relating to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. He is also likely to visit Singapore and Australia for discussions later this month.
Just before the Rajnath Singh visit, Admiral John Aquilino, chief of the American Pacific Command, arrives in Delhi for discussions with Navy Chief, Admiral Karambir Singh, and other senior officials. while the issues are likely to be the situation in the South China Sea, with Beijing being the elephant in the room, the situation in the gulf and coordination in the Indian Ocean, India is likely to point out that it needs closer cooperation in the Arabian sea, keeping in mind Pakistan.
Source: Times Now News