Pokhran, Rajasthan: In a move aimed to pouring oil over troubled waters, especially in the wake of the controversy surrounding the refurbishment of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov (re-designated INS Vikramaditya), Indian defence minister AK Antony has stressed that defence cooperation with Moscow was not "contract centric" and would be maintained at peak levels.
In making the statement the defence minister would appear to be disagreeing with the recent remarks of Indian navy chief, and also chairman, chiefs of staff committee, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, that delivery schedule of crucial weapon platforms such as the carrier Gorshkov made "us wonder where our relations with Russia were going".
A good couple of days after the Admiral made his statement the defence minister has now stepped in to say, "Our relations with Russia have stood the test of time for over 60 Years."
When asked about the views expressed by Admiral Mehta, the minister said, "This (his stand) is the only view of the Government.''''
Antony was talking to newsmen after witnessing an awesome firepower display put up by the Indian Air Force at the firing ranges here and asserted that these close ties with Russia would be nurtured and maintained.
On the demand for a steep hike in costs made by Russia for the upgradation of the carrier, Antony said, "the issue had already been taken up at the highest level".
"Some discussions are on and these will be placed before the cabinet committee on security soon,'''' he said.