India and Russia have agreed to enhance their defence collaboration, after concerns in New Delhi that the conflict in Ukraine was affecting its own military supplies from Moscow.
The agreement was made during meetings between Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) defence ministers’ meeting in New Delhi, according to the Indian government.
They expressed satisfaction over the continued trust and mutual respect between the two countries, particularly in defence and reiterated their commitment towards strengthening the partnership.
India, the world’s largest arms importer, depends on Russia for nearly half its military supplies, and has bought fighter jets, tanks, nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier over the decades.
But the war in Ukraine has held up supplies of Russian spares critical for India to maintain its tank and fighter jet fleets and delayed the delivery of Russian air defence systems.
India has refused to publicly blame Russia for the war in Ukraine and has increased its trade with Moscow to a record high, driven largely by the import of Russian oil.
Several Western leaders have criticised India’s proximity to Russia as they try to isolate Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. New Delhi says it defending its interests in buying Russian oil and has pushed for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Moscow, which faces an expected counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces in the coming weeks, hosted the defence ministers of Iran, Syria and Turkey on Tuesday.
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