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MOSCOW, October 26 (Itar-Tass) --- Ahead of a Russian visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December “privileged strategic partnership” between Moscow and New Delhi faced serious problems, the Kommersant writes. The project to build a nuclear power plant involving Russian specialists in Kudankulam is under threat over the protests of local residents. Another major failure for Russia is the lost tender for the helicopter supply for the Indian Air Force. A multifunctional transport airplane project is also lagging. The experts believe that this is not some separate failures but the tendency and that Russia will have more obstacles to keep the leadership on an enormous Indian market.
Indian activists led by the people’s movement against nuclear power that seek for the termination of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant project insist that a similar tragedy may occur in India after the nuclear disaster at the Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima. One of their arguments is that the nuclear power plant is under construction on the coast of the Indian Ocean and may be hit a devastating tsunami as was the case in Japan. The protesters do not believe in the pledges of Russian representatives about the safety of the nuclear power plant.
The Kudankulam crisis caused some major problems for the Indian leadership ahead of a Moscow official visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh due in December and his negotiations with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Until recently the Kudankulam nuclear power plant was a symbol of “privileged strategic partnership” between the countries declared during Medvedev’s visit in New Delhi in the previous year.
The scandal fanning up over the Kudankulam nuclear power plant coincided with Russia’s another major failure in military-technical cooperation with India, which is the top priority in bilateral relations along with nuclear cooperation. On Tuesday Indian sources stated that Moscow lost a major tender for the delivery of helicopter gunships Mi-28N Night Hunter to India (the contract is estimated at 600 million dollars). India preferred US helicopter gunships Apache AH-24 to Russian helicopters.
The Kommersant learnt about the reasons why Russia lost a weapon tender. India spelled out the reasons for the refusal from Russian helicopter gunships in a letter to the Russian embassy, a source close to the Indian Defence Ministry said. The letter was written in the tough way with 20 points, under which the Russian helicopter gunship Mi-28N Night Hunter with its technical features does not meet Indian requirements.
One of the reasons for Russia’s failure is India’s intentions to diversify the sources of weapons supplies and not to depend by 80% from Russian military supplies as was the case in the last few decades, the vice-president of the Indian research center Observer Research Foundation Nandan Unnikrishnan said.
Finally, Indian media reported on Tuesday about the difficulties, which another ambitious bilateral project faced. The project envisages the creation of a multifunctional military transport airplane. According to the sources in the Indian Defence Ministry, India was dissatisfied with a Russian business plan, because it does not envisage an expected participation of Indian engineers and scientists in this project.
The experts believe that the problems, which Moscow faced right in several priority trends of cooperation with India, point to new realities in bilateral relations. Despite the declaration of privileged strategic partnership, all is far from being unequivocal, Unnikrishnan said. Moscow will have to show a greater flexibility and resourcefulness to keep the leading positions on a huge Indian market, he underlined.