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OCTOBER 2015 ISSUE


I would also like to respond to the idle talk and pure invention of the media by reiterating that Russia has not discussed and does not have any plans to sell Su-35 aircraft to Pakistan
Minister-Counsellor and deputy chief of mission, Denis Alipov, Russian Embassy, New Delhi
 

Denis Alipov The general sentiment, in India and more in Russia, is that the relations between the two countries have lost their earlier warmth. Do you agree with this, and if yes, why do you think this has happened?
The Russian-Indian relations during the days of the Soviet Union were omnipresent indeed but it is essentially wrong to argue that the two nations have cooled off each other since. In fact, having disengaged from ideological background our relationship has become more sincere and warmer than before. These are the sentiments that overwhelmingly prevail in Russia and we are very proud of the unprecedented level of trust and friendship with India. This is true of relationship between the leaders of the two countries irrespective of who is in power in Moscow or New Delhi. This is equally true of feelings of the general public. Trust is the very essence of our relations, something that does not come overnight but is nurtured for years and tested at the times of hardship. If some started to believe otherwise, I wish to testify as a longstanding insider officially and personally that they are fundamentally wrong.

Russia and India pursue the same goals on international arena of which the recent BRICS and SCO summits in Ufa are indicative. Prime Minister Modi will visit Russia again by the end of the year for the bilateral summit expected to generate fresher ideas to deepen cooperation at both the global and bilateral levels. Russia is very extensively engaged with India in politics and economy although the latter has been less effective for objective reasons. I would say both the countries are rediscovering each other economically in terms of applying the capacity of private SMEs and start-ups while successfully maintaining traditional cooperation in such areas as hydroelectric power, mechanical engineering, metallurgy, oil and gas industry, petrochemicals etc.

The most promising has been the area of nuclear energy. Russia is the only country practically collaborating with India in the nuclear energy sector. Two state-of-the-art nuclear power units with the world safest light water reactors have already been constructed at the Kudankulam site. Unit 1 is operational and unit 2 is being prepared for attaining criticality. Preparatory works for the construction of units 3 and 4 at the same site are underway.

I would like to reiterate that the Russian engineers have successfully implemented all post-Fukusima safety requirements outlined by the Indian Regulator AERB. A very important factor is the economic viability of the Russian projects. The Kudankulam units offer the most competitive price for electricity strictly corresponding to the figures stipulated by the Indian government.

It is noteworthy that the Russian-Indian collaboration in the nuclear sphere is not limited to NPP construction. There are joint projects in nuclear science and on aspects of nuclear fuel cycle. Russian and Indian scientists effectively cooperate in research at the Russian Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna and within the framework of such international projects like International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) programme.

How many reactors will Russia eventually build in India?
I would say as many as you wish us to. The Strategic Vision for strengthening cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy signed during the bilateral summit in December 2014 provides for the construction of at least 12 units within the next two decades. This includes up to six more units at Kudankulam and units at other sites in India. We are expecting the Indian government to soon announce and allocate a new site for these purposes. At Kudankulam Russian and Indian experts gained practical experience of construction and commissioning of the Russian-designed reactors. This platform will allow us to effectively continue with the construction of new units.

 
 
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