India wants to stop buying weapons from Russia: Reuters points out the problem

Lilia RagutskaWorld
Joe Biden and Narendra Modi; Vladimir Putin

India wants to stop supplying weapons from Russia, which itself has faced an arms shortage and delayed the fulfillment of contracts due to its aggression against Ukraine. However, the Indian authorities are being careful not to contribute to an even closer rapprochement between Russia and China by refusing Russian weapons.

Currently, despite Moscow's public appeals, New Delhi is focusing on developing its own defense industry using Western technologies. Reuters writes about the situation.

After speaking with four unnamed sources from the Indian government and security forces, the publication reported on India's intentions to abandon Russian weapons.

"India is seeking to distance itself from its largest arms supplier after Russia's ability to supply ammunition and spare parts was limited by the war in Ukraine, but it must tread carefully to avoid pushing Moscow closer to China, Indian sources say. "The world's largest arms importer (India - Ed.) is slowly turning to the West as the United States seeks to strengthen ties in the Indo-Pacific region, hoping to curb China's rise by weaning India from its traditional dependence on Russia," the article says.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute believes that 65% of the weapons purchased by India over the past 20 years have been produced and sold by Russia. Moscow has earned tens of billions of dollars from arms contracts with New Delhi. Now, after the beginning of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, India has decided to revise this policy and diversify its arms purchases.

"We are unlikely to sign any major military agreement with Russia. That would be a red line for Washington," the outlet quoted Nandan Unnikrishnan, an expert at the New Delhi Observer Research Foundation, as saying.

All four Reuters sources, including a recently retired senior Indian security official, noted that Moscow is now offering New Delhi its most advanced Kamov helicopters and Sukhoi and MiG fighters, as well as the development of joint arms production in India.

In this way, Russia is trying to encourage India to strengthen defense ties. Instead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking to win the elections in the spring, is betting on developing his own weapons production using Western technologies. After all, this is in line with his program to stimulate domestic production.

In total, over the next decade, India plans to spend about $100 billion on arms purchases, according to the local Ministry of Defense.

India is currently developing defense cooperation with the United States. Last year, the two countries signed an agreement under which the American company General Electric will produce engines for its fighter jets in India. According to the newspaper, this is the first time the United States has made such a concession to a country that does not have the status of a US ally. The two countries plan to accelerate technological cooperation and joint production in various fields.

However, the strengthening of ties between India and the United States could worsen the country's relations with China, which are already quite tense, in particular after clashes on the India-China border in 2020, when 24 soldiers from both sides were killed.

The 3,200-kilometer stretch of border between the two countries has been a subject of dispute between India and China since 1962, when the Sino-Indian War broke out over it.

For the same reason, India has to balance its relations with Russia.

"India has to walk a tightrope in its relations with Russia, for which the Indian government has been one of its largest arms buyers for decades and, from 2022, oil as well. Ending such trade would push Moscow closer to Beijing, the only other major economy it deals with," the newspaper said.

One of the interlocutors of Reuters commented on this as follows: "Buying arms buys you influence. By closing yourself off from them (Russia - Ed.), you make them subordinate to China."

The same opinion is shared by Nandan Unnikrishnan, who in his comments to journalists emphasized that maintaining trade with Russia in energy and other areas would help "keep it as far away from China as possible."

Despite the fact that after the disruption of Russian arms shipments at the beginning of Russia's full-scale aggression against Ukraine, the situation has somewhat leveled off, the fears of the country's officials about whether the arms exporter, which is itself tied up in hostilities, is reliable enough have not been completely dispelled.

"As the war in Ukraine drags on, the question arises whether Russia will be able to provide us with spare parts. This helps diversify," said Swasti Rao, a Eurasia expert at the state-run Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis.

Currently, according to Reuters sources, India is seeking to purchase French jets for its new aircraft carrier, and also wants to build submarines using French, German or Spanish technology and to establish production of fighter jets with American and French engines.

Earlier, it was reported that China has significantly increased the supply of high-precision machine tools for the Russian military industry. According to the FT, in February 2022, Chinese manufacturers sold $6.5 million worth of computer numerically controlled tools to Russia, and in July 2023, they sold $68 million worth.

It has also been reported that China has recognized Russian Kinzhal missiles as ineffective. The Shanghai military magazine Ordnance Industry Science and Technology, whose publications are approved by the Chinese Communist Party and the National Liberation Army, said that the missiles, which Russian President Vladimir Putin called "unparalleled in the world," use "outdated technologies."

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