Russia-Pakistan defence relations raises Indian eyebrows

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Russia looks to broaden its defence relationship with Islamabad by expanding a contract to supply assault helicopters to the country, despite Indian reservations.

Earlier, Russia had agreed to supply four Mi-35 helicopters to Pakistan, but it is now willing to sell more provided it can shell out the cost.

Equipped with the latest navigation and avionics systems, the Russian chopper offers 24-hour use of guided and unguided weapons in regular and challenging climate conditions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said, “Russia will sell four choppers in the first phase, after which the contract could be expanded depending upon Islamabad.”

Government sources here said the issue will likely be discussed again with Russian authorities when PM Narendra Modi travels there for his annual summit meet with Putin, in December first week.

While he admitted that Russia was mindful of India’s interests, Kabulov said talks were on with Pakistan over supply of other weapons and defence systems, including artillery, in which the latter had shown interest.

“They are interested in tanks and artillery, and so on, but here we have to use caution in view of the strained Indo-Pakistani relations even though such a contract is a minuscule deal against the background of our cooperation with India.”

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