Russian ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, showed his frustration over media reporting on Russian arms sales
by Ajai Shukla
8th Dec 11
(A shorter version of this post was published in Business Standard today)
Moscow’s frustration over its declining share of India’s defence market boiled over today, with the Russian ambassador, Alexander Kadakin, alleging unfair treatment by the Indian media at a press conference in New Delhi.
Reacting to a Business Standard/Broadsword report (Technology transfer, supply of assemblies hit Russian stonewall, dated 28th Nov 11), which highlighted contractual lapses by Russia in the indigenous production of the T-90S tank, Kadakin lashed out at this correspondent and simultaneously blamed the Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF), Avadi, which builds the T-90S tank.
“One journalist… maybe he was having a very difficult hangover in the morning… wrote something that Russia is not supplying drawings for T-90. Russia is not giving the steels or the other necessary (components). Everything he wrote from beginning to end was completely false. Completely false. Russia has completely carried out all its obligations as regards T-90. The problem was with the producers here; the manufacturers here. We were not commenting on this because we were not wanting to blackmouth (sic) the Indian partners. They had problems, not Russia,” declared Kadakin
I accosted Kadakin after the press conference and asked him why the Russian Embassy had not responded to my questionnaire, which I had emailed them a week before actually carrying the story. I asked him whether he had any specific responses now, or was merely trying to dodge the issue by blaming a correspondent’s hangover.
Kadakin made some feeble joke, suggested that I have a vodka (at the hospitality bar that the Russian Embassy had set up for the press conference), and scuttled off.
In the press conference, Kadakin also castigated the Indian media for “rejoicing” when Russia’s Mi-28 attack helicopter lost out to the US-built Apache AH-64D in the trials held earlier this year by the Indian Air Force (IAF), Kadakin said, “Yes, we lost the contract of attack helicopters to Apache. But no correspondent wrote that Russia participated in that tender just to be in that tender. But what a huge noise was raised here. Russia is losing its position… as if one were rejoicing over it.”
While India remains a major buyer of Russian military equipment, Russian sales have been eroded by new competition, primarily from Israel and the US. America’s presence has been boosted by recent sales of the C-130J Super Hercules; and the C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft; and the P8I Poseidon multi-role maritime aircraft (MMR).
Lashing out at Washington’s recent indication that it would sell India its cutting edge F-35 Lightening II joint strike fighter, Kadakin declared, “Some other countries, sometimes it seems as if they are throwing carrots into India’s garden. They throw a carrot about some 35 plane (i.e. the F-35). Are you sure they will give the technologies,” said Kadakin, taking a swipe at the strict controls that the US exercises over defence technologies.
Moscow’s breezy attitude towards technology controls was evident in the Kadakin’s explanation of how Pakistan’s JF-17 fighter was flying with a Russian RD-93 engine, despite Moscow’s assertions that it would not sell arms to Pakistan: “Sorry, we are not in the picture. If China is selling (the engine to Pakistan)… they should not do it. If they violate (our contract), we are nowhere in the picture.
Kadakin lamented that the media only highlighted delays to Russian platforms, like the Gorshkov aircraft carrier; and three frigates that Russia is building. In a barely disguised swipe at the French Scorpene submarine programme, he said, “Of course there were delays about the (Russian) frigates… But why are you not writing about a three-year delay in some other marine thing… and you know what I mean.”
Pointing obliquely to the Akula class nuclear submarine that Moscow is leasing to India, Kadakin emphasising Russia’s unique role in provided strategic technologies.
“Why don’t you write about other things we are giving you… some underwater things? What other country has given you that?” demanded Kadakin.
Russian media reports have suggested that the nuclear submarine is undergoing final trials before being handed over to the Indian Navy, which will name it INS Chakra. Kadakin confirmed that the submarine was “in the pipeline” and “it will come soon”.
To highlight the success of the India-Russia defence relationship, Kadakin also pointed to the Brahmos programme, in which the two countries jointly built a supersonic cruise missile, Kadakin claimed that Russia had “given India the best of technologies for Brahmos… as a result of which you have the best supersonic missile in the world.”
It was another typically Kadakin example of chicanery. Russia has not “given India” any technologies for the Brahmos! The two sides have developed their respective portions of the missile separately, and both sides’ components and sub-systems are assembled into Brahmos missile systems without any technology being transferred.
Kadakin demonstrated during the press conference that he is neither a military technologist, nor a diplomat. Rather, he is a politician and a showman who can beguile Indian audiences, which tend to have little or no knowledge of military-technical issues.
Kadakin also brought up the GLONAS issue: “Who has have offered you the high-precision signal for GLONAS. Yes, they [i.e. the Americans] can offer you GPS… and you will get in the same trouble as they got in Iraq. India is, was and will be the first and only country which has been offered GLONAS. And the decision was taken by the government to give it only to India as a special exception, taking into account our especially friendly relations.”