New Delhi (Sputnik): Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh left for a three-day visit to Russia on Monday to participate in the Victory Day parade on 24 June. Rajnath’s visit was finalised in consultation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid New Delhi’s border tensions with China.
India is considering the option of urging Russia to ramp up the delivery of S-400 air defence missile systems, a defence ministry source said on condition of anonymity. It’s believed that Moscow had planned to delay delivery until December 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The speeding up the delivery of the $5.4-billion systems, for which India completed a large payment last year, is expected to be discussed during Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s slated bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.
While leaving for Moscow to participate in the Victory Day parade on 24 June, the Indian Defence Minister tweeted that his visit is an opportunity to further deepen the India-Russia defence and strategic partnership.
Leaving for Moscow on a three day visit. The visit to Russia will give me an opportunity to hold talks on ways to further deepen the India-Russia defence and strategic partnership. I shall also be attending the 75th Victory Day Parade in Moscow.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 22, 2020
The Indian government’s decision to send the defence minister to participate in Moscow’s 75th Victory Day parade comes in the wake of India’s planned purchase of 33 fighter jets, including 12 Su-30MKI and 21 MiG-29, from Russia under an emergency order and amid border clashes between India and China in the Ladakh region in the far north of the country.
India is also considering the event as an opportunity to engage with Russia during this critical juncture because Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe is also likely to be present at the event. Russia and China share strong defence ties and adding to India’s concern, Beijing has already acquired its own S-400 systems from Moscow.
Rajanth is also scheduled to meet Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, who also handles military and aerospace affairs.