Defence, nuclear deals to dominate Medvedev visit

Dmitry MedvedevIndia and Russia are expected to sign about eight agreements, including a long-pending one on co-developing and producing a fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's two-day visit beginning 21 December.

Another important agreement will be in the civil nuclear sphere, where both sides will seek to fill in more details to the umbrella agreement signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow in December last year.

President Medvedev is scheduled to attend the annual India-Russia summit and hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a range of issues covering bilateral and regional matters like situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and global issues of mutual interest.

On the defence front, the two sides are at an advanced stage of negotiations for a contract for joint production of fifth generation fighters and it could be signed during the visit. First of such fighters, to be designed in India, could roll out by 2018. The two sides are also expected to discuss the upgradation of MiG-29 and Sukhoi fighter aircraft.

Indian security concerns over its depleting fighter aircraft fleet will be reduced to some extent if both sides manage to ink the FGFA deal. Over time, at least 250 advanced fighters will be inducted into the Indian Air Force as a result of the agreement. Both sides have already agreed to jointly develop and produce military transport planes.

Oil and trade
Despite healthy political relations, bilateral trade between India and Russia is still as low as $8 billion and both sides are determined to push it to $20 billion by 2015.