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Russia approves draft logistics agreement to be signed with India

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MOSCOW : After being held up for several years, the India-Russia Mutual Logistics Agreement is ready for conclusion, with Russia approving the draft agreement over the past week.

The agreement will simplify military-to-military exchanges for exercises, training, port calls and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) efforts. It is similar to a series of such agreements that India has signed with a number of countries, beginning with the United States in 2016.

An official order dated June 20 was published on Russia’s official legal information website, authorising the signing of the logistics agreement with India. The draft of the agreement was also published. “It’s a Russian governmental decree that approves signing the agreement and makes relevant instruction to the [Ministry of Defence] MoD,” diplomatic sources said, commenting on the order. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has instructed the MoD to hold negotiations with the Indian side on the draft document, sources said.

Delayed agreement

The conclusion of the Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS) has been delayed for several years. Official sources said that this was the same agreement which has now been approved by the Russian side, and has to be signed by both sides before it can become effective. The agreement, as and when concluded, will be valid for five years and will be renewed automatically unless either party notifies the other of its desire to terminate it, sources said.

Defence cooperation is a major pillar of the India-Russia strategic partnership and is guided by the agreement on military technical cooperation. The agreement for the decade from 2021 to 2031 was signed during the inaugural meeting of India-Russia 2+2 dialogue held in December 2021. The cooperation agreement involves interaction between troops, and also addresses issues of the supply and development of weapons and military equipment, the Russian Ministry of Defence explained. A Navy-to-Navy cooperation agreement along the same lines has also been in the works for some time.

Access to Arctic facilities

India has signed several logistics agreements, including with all the Quad countries, France, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement, simplifying logistical support and increasing the operational turnaround of the military when operating away from India.

As reported earlier, the RELOS, when signed, will give India access to Russian facilities in the Arctic region, which is seeing increased global activity as new shipping routes open up. This is significant given India’s increasing investments in Russia’s eastern regions.

Mutual benefits

Among the three services, the Indian Navy has been the biggest beneficiary of these administrative arrangements signed with several countries, improving its operational turnaround and increasing interoperability on the high seas. The agreements have been a win-win for both the parties involved. For instance, the foundational agreements with the U.S., as well as the logistics agreements with Australia and Japan, have been especially beneficial as they also operate several common military platforms, along with India’s increasing share of U.S.-origin platforms.

Similarly, the United Kingdom has been leveraging its agreement with India to expand maritime cooperation. In recent deployments, Royal Navy ships have received spare parts manufactured by Indian shipyards within a short notice period, showcasing the growing interoperability between the two navies, the U.K. High commission recently noted. Similarly, Royal Air Force flights travelling in the region have already benefitted twice from taking logistics halts in India.

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