India set to sign US-like defence logistics sharing pact with Russia

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India set to sign US-like defence logistics sharing pact with RussiaNEW DELHI: India is close to inking a key defence logistics sharing pact which will place it as a rare nation that has such a strategic agreement with both of the old cold war rivals – the US and Russia.

India and Russia are finalising a defence agreement that will simplify interoperability and enable military platforms to receive support and supplies across bases in both nations.

The Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS) is being seen as an important practical step that could be signed at the upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia in early September.

India has a defence logistics sharing agreement with its largest training partner, the US. A similar agreement was also inked with France — another big ally for joint exercises — in 2018.

Sources told ET that while the two countries have broadly agreed on the pact that will be most beneficial to the Navy as warships will get access to mutual ports and exclusive economic zones to refuel and pick up supplies, the final wordings of the agreement are being worked out.

A senior team led by additional secretary Jiwesh Nandan of the defence ministry finalised the terms of the pact during a visit to Moscow last month. The final pact will have enabling mechanisms to pick up supplies and spares at mutual ports and bases in what could be a cashless transaction, with the final accounts being settled at the end of the year.

The Indian Navy, with a significant strength of Russian origin warships, will be able to smoothly transit through for exercises or refits using the agreement while the air force will find it easier to deploy aircraft for joint exercises. Following the agreement, Russians could not only use ports like Mumbai and Visakhapatnam.