Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is in India for three days of talks that Russian and Indian defense sources say could result in an agreement for India to purchase a Russian aircraft carrier.
Russia and India have been discussing the possible sale of the refurbished Russian aircraft carrier known as the Admiral Gorshkov for more than three years. But until now, there has been no word of a deal.
As Defense Minister Ivanov left for India, officials in Moscow and New Delhi said the deal is as good as done. It would call for India to purchase the aircraft carrier, as well as its corresponding jets and armaments.
The cost of the deal is expected to approach $2 billion and, if confirmed, would be one of the largest single defense deals between India and Russia. The ship would be India's second aircraft carrier.
During the course of Mr. Ivanov's visit, India is also expected to look to Russia to supply spare parts in order to undertake much-needed repairs on India's aging warplanes and tanks.
Defense Minister Ivanov took a number of high-level defense officials and military industry leaders with him to New Delhi for the talks, which are also expected to focus on boosting broader Russian-Indian military cooperation.
During the three days of talks, Mr. Ivanov is expected to meet with his Indian counterpart, George Fernandes, as well as Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Russia is one of India's biggest military suppliers, providing more than 70 percent of its military hardware.