New Delhi: Indian Army chief, General Deepak Kapoor will leave for Russia today on a trip that may attempt to sort out some of the outstanding defence-related issues that continue to bedevil relations between both the countries. It will also help acquaint General Kapoor with Russian defence functionaries.
Russia continues to be India's top defence supplier, even though relations between both nations have been on the downside for a long period of time and are yet to show signs of revival.
"Gen Kapoor will hold discussions with the Russian military brass, which has seen changes in recent times, during his five-day visit. He will also visit the Russian land forces tank division, the Mikhailovskaya artillery academy and the North Caucasus military district," said an official.
The visit to the artillery school may have been organised keeping in mind the fact that Gen Kapoor is himself an officer from the Artillery Corps.
India and Russia are due to hold the third edition of the "Indra" counter-terrorism exercise in 2009. They have already held two rounds of these exercises, with the previous one held last year at Pskov, south-east of St Petersburg.
Though Russia remains India's largest military supplier, huge cost escalations and time overruns in several defence projects have become a major irritant in the relations between both the nations. It is a common perception in Indian defence circles that the slowdown in deliveries of military items by Russia is deliberate and a way of expressing its resentment over India's increasing tilt towards countries like Israel, US, France and UK, both politically, as well as a source for its arms.
Russia has traditionally cornered a large share of the world's arms market, which not only adds foreign exchange to its treasury but also provides much needed employment opportunities to its aerospace and defence-related industry.