President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov, who holds the current chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, is a surprise special guest at the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
The invite is another step up for bilateral ties that have been on an upward swing— the Central Asian republic is sharing a request for defence equipment from India, taking the strategic relationship beyond the current level of bilateral exercises and the construction of a joint mountain warfare training centre.
India is likely to extend a line of credit to Kyrgyzstan to enable the transfer of defence equipment, with sources indicating that this could be valued to as much as $100 million. The central Asian nation is looking for a range of defence systems to modernise its armed forces that are large of Russian origin. Sources said three areas, in particular, have been identified by Kyrgyz defence teams that visited India over the past few months and a formal letter of request is being processed to take the acquisition ahead. The process will involve approvals from the ministry of external affairs.
Given the commonality of equipment, the Kyrgyz military wants to procure simulators that have already been purchased by the Indian defence forces. Sources said the request for equipment includes products made by the Hyderabad-based Zen Technologies. The company has a wide range of products for Russian equipment, including driving and gunnery crew equipment for T 72 and T 90 tanks, as well as for the BMP Infantry Combat Vehicles.
A Kyrgyz military team visited several private sector companies in India to identify an equipment list that includes land-based systems upgrades by Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and protective equipment by MKU, sources said.
Bilateral relations have been on a strong footing since 2011 when the joint ‘Khanjar’ series of exercises started but saw acceleration after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in 2015 to all central Asian republics. Since then three IT-Centres have been established by India at Kyrgyz Military Institutions and the Khanjar series have evolved into more complex exercises. Both nations are jointly constructing the Kyrgyz-Indian Mountain Training Centre in the city of Balykchi and India helped to equip the Kyrgyz Military Field 2nd Level Hospital for UN Peacekeeping Missions.