A joint working group (JWG) on defence cooperation between India and Ukraine will meet for the first time in Kiev next week at a time the eastern European country has sought New Delhi’s help to investigate criminal charges against officials of Ukraine’s Spetstechnoexport, a state-run entity overseeing military exports and imports.
India and Ukraine will explore possibilities for expanding military cooperation at a time India is making attempts to diversify its arms purchases in the wake of American sanctions against Russia and Ukraine is making a pitch to expand its presence in the Indian defence market, officials familiar with the talks said.
The JWG will meet on June 4-5, six years after the two countries inked a defence cooperation pact.
The officials, who did not wish to be named, said Ukraine was looking at partnering with Indian firms to pursue opportunities in areas such as armoured vehicles, transport aircraft, radars, electronic warfare equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles. Ukrainian companies are in talks with Indian firms such as Reliance Defence, Larsen & Toubro, and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd for likely opportunities under the Make in India initiative, the officials added.
“For countries like India that are dependent on arms imports, a working relationship with Ukraine will be a desirable course of action. It will allow us some wiggle room in the wake of American sanctions against Russian entities,” said strategic affairs expert Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd). In the naval sphere, India is in talks with Ukraine for gas turbines for a frigate programme. India and Russia are likely to sign a deal for four more Krivak/Talwar class stealth frigates before the India-Russia annual summit in October, and the gas turbines will power these warships. The turbines will be supplied by Ukroboronprom’s Gas Turbine Research & Production Complex Zorya-Mashproekt.
Ukraine could also be asked to help with maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of Soviet-era weaponry at competitive prices, said an army official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Reacting to a news report on Thursday, the defence ministry trashed allegations that Indian officials were involved in a bribery case relating to the purchase of spares from Ukraine for the Indian Air Force’s Antonov-32 planes. It said the Ukrainian embassy in India had sent a request to ministries of home and external affairs in March for legal assistance in the investigation of a criminal case filed against officials of Spetstechnoexport.
India and Ukraine inked a $400-million contract in 2009 for upgrading the IAF’s fleet of 100 An-32 planes.
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