MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia confirmed on Monday it would finally deliver a refurbished aircraft carrier to India, a Kremlin source said, but gave no timing for the much-delayed project which has soured ties with India’s military.
Speaking as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with Russian leaders in Moscow, the source said discussions between on delivering the Admiral Gorshkov had been completed.
India, along with China, is one of Russia’s biggest clients for arms sales but New Delhi has been upset in recent years by long delays in the delivery of the refurbished Soviet-era aircraft carrier under a $1.6 billion contract.
“Discussions between India and Russia on the delivery of the the Admiral Gorshkov have been finalised, and the deal will be accomplished,” the Kremlin source told reporters on condition of anonymity. He gave no time frame for the deal and Indian officials were not immediately available for comment.
In July Russian President Dmitry Medvedev took the rare step of publicly scolding the Russian shipbuilder for the delays.
Singh met Medvedev for an informal dinner after arrival on Sunday before formal meetings on Monday. He is due to meet Russia’s pre-eminent politician, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin later in the day.
Russia and India, which agreed in October the outlines of a 10-year weapons deal that could be worth at least $10 billion, are building a modern supersonic fighter aircraft invisible to radars like the U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth fighter.
Singh may sign weapons orders including a $1 billion deal for 80 Russian Mi-17 helicopters and contracts for fitting Brahmos missiles to Russian-made Sukhoi fighter planes, Indian officials have said.
Russia sees India, a Cold War ally, as an important partner whose influence will expand in Asia, although trade lags far behind Moscow’s economic ties with the European Union and China.
It rose to $5.1 billion in the first nine months of 2009 but accounts for just 1.6 percent of Russia’s external trade, according to Russian state figures.
Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by David Stamp