Russia-India Relations Stay Strong: Modi Gifts Putin MiG-21 Fighters in ‘Historic Gesture’

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the next Russian-Indian summit on October 4 and 5 in New Delhi. The media reports that during the meeting India will give Russia “retro” MiG-21 fighters as a gift.

According to The Hindu news outlet, the fighters will be delivered at the request of the Russian Defense Minister, who requested a MiG-21BIS type 75 and two MiG-21FL type 77, with Moscow being responsible for transportation.

The aircraft are in flight condition and will receive new registration numbers and may in the future be used for “vintage” flights. However, the media emphasize that it is not yet clear exactly how Russia will use the aircraft. Most probably these will be used at ‘historic’ based air-shows and exhibitions, and will represent the long standing ties between India and the then USSR as well as the importance of the relationship between India and contemporary Russia.

The Hindu underscores that the present has symbolic meaning and aims to demonstrate the bonds of friendship and broad strategic partnership between the two countries, despite the current geopolitical game-plan in which India exercises its multi-polar foreign policy by ‘Riding the Tiger’ of the collapsing Atlanticist West. Experts believe that mid-to-long term, India’s real role as a central engine alongside China in the BRICS project will resume as US influence wanes, and as Brazil bucks its present Atlanticist detour.

Therefore, it is important for serious trainspotters and analysts alike not to fall prey to the current information-war campaign which may lead to contrary conclusions regarding India’s role in the rising multipolar world. 

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MiG-21, produced in series in the USSR from 1959 to 1985, is the most sophisticated supersonic military aircraft in the history of aviation. According to some calculations, about 11,500 units have been produced, which are part of the air forces of more than 50 countries.

In addition, The Times of India reported, citing its sources in the government, about India’s willingness to sign a $5.43 billion deal. It is anticipated that the decision was taken on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s visit to the country. However, official confirmation has not yet come.

Deliveries of the S-400 Triumph and frigates from project 11356 were agreed between Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2016. If the contract is officially closed, India will become the third foreign buyer of the Russian S-400 missiles, after China and Turkey.

It is not surprising that Indian plans trigger Washington’s concern that it does not even preclude introducing sanctions against the country, just as it did with China.

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