This note compiles some views by analysts on India's support to Russia. 1. Radha Kumar has an [excellent article](https://thewire.in/diplomacy/why-indias-implicit-support-to-russia-on-ukraine-war-is-a-strategic-blunder) in *The Wire* which sheds light on some long-standing misconceptions about Russia's importance to India. The article makes four claims. 1. Russia is India's largest arms provider but not a *reliable* one. > Arms supplies are frequently long-delayed, and Putin had used the delays to up the prices, sometimes even double them. By contrast, the French deliveries of the Rafael jets have been comparatively speedy, though there too prices rose steeply between those agreed by the Manmohan Singh administration and those agreed under Modi. 2. Russia has not been a dependable partner either. > Putin has turned a blind eye to China’s many acts of aggression against India. It was Russia that kept us out of Afghan peace negotiations in the very recent past. What was our response then? Appeasement. We bought large quantities of arms to placate Russia – since Putin accused us of drawing closer to the US – in the hope they would intervene with China. What was the result? Another Chinese salami-slice.Russia did little to help us when China raised Kashmir at the UNSC in 2019 and 2020. It was the US and European countries that helped then – going against their own human rights principles. 3. US and the West are not the deserters they are made out to be, at least not in the last few years. > the argument that the US and Europe were absent when it came to our China conflict is also factually incorrect. It was the Modi administration that sought to downplay China’s aggression. We did not raise the issue at the UNSC or seek a resolution. Given that our government continues to deny that we have lost territory and appears to regard the loss of patrolling rights as inconsequential, accusing other countries of absence is a bit rich. Seeking allies against China should be a priority, but we do not even know if the Modi administration has accepted the US offer of high-tech surveillance. > > India’s isolation from the high-tech world of the Atlantic alliance ended as long as three decades ago, at the end of the Cold War. The doors to military cooperation with the US were thrown open first by the Bush administration 20 years ago; both the EU and France have lobbied to sell their aircraft to us for over a decade (France won). NATO offered us a cooperation agreement at least 10 years ago, which we turned down, even though it would have helped us upgrade our capabilities, even perhaps our arms manufacture. 4. Russia-China combine might not be bad for India. > China does not wish to be burdened with yet another pariah, and a weakened Putin will hamper China’s global reach. It was Russia’s connections to the Middle East that helped China make inroads in that area. Similarly, Putin helped ease Chinese economic and military penetration into the central Asian republics. The belt and road initiative relies heavily on access to Europe through Russia; it will be seriously threatened by Russia’s isolation. 2. Chris Martin has a good [compilation](https://www.defensenews.com/global/asia-pacific/2022/02/25/what-weapons-has-russia-sent-to-india/) on *Defence News* of all military transfers from Russia to India between 2016-2020. 3. Aditya Pareek and Pranav Satyanath [highlight](https://theprint.in/opinion/can-india-get-spares-for-russian-military-equipment-elsewhere-learn-from-poland-iran/864797/) that spares for some Russian military equipment such as T-72 tanks are available in other countries as well. Not everything that Russia supplies is non-substitutable. 4. Anirban Bhaumik has [captured](https://www.deccanherald.com/international/russia-pledges-to-provide-more-weapons-to-pakistan-despite-unease-in-india-971616.html) recent developments in Russia-Pakistan ties, despite Indian displeasure in *Deccan Herald* > They started discussing the sale of Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan in 2014 and the delivery of the choppers purportedly began in 2018, although New Delhi had conveyed to Moscow its concerns over the deal. Russia also inked a defence cooperation agreement with Pakistan in November 2015 and the two nations had the first joint military drill in September-October, 2016 – just weeks after India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the US. The last annual exercise took place in Nov 2020 > 5. Sribala Subramanian in *The Diplomat* cites Amb Nirupama Rao's new book to [reveal](https://thediplomat.com/2022/03/is-russia-really-indias-friend/) how Russia's behaviour in 1962 war was less than desirable. > In mid-October 1962, Chinese and Indian troops clashed in the Eastern Himalayas over a disputed border. The fighting quickly escalated. India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru hoped he could count on an old friend, the Soviet Union. > Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, however, was preoccupied with a showdown on the other side of the world. The Cuban Missile Crisis was heating up precisely at the same time as the Sino-Indian war. Khrushchev reportedly urged Nehru to compromise on the border since he needed China’s support. If India raised the issue at the U.N., he warned the USSR would have to stay loyal to China. Khrushchev also suspended the sale of military aircraft to India on the eve of the war to demonstrate Moscow’s impartiality. An editorial in the state-run publication Pravda called the boundary favored by India an “infamous” colonial-era imposition. Moscow had turned its back on India at a critical moment. > > Meanwhile, the United States made a “high-visibility” gesture of support for India’s border claims. Overriding the State Department’s reservations, U.S. Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith endorsed the controversial McMahon Line with the approval of the White House. President John F. Kennedy was confronting the biggest crisis of his presidency but offered to help India with military supplies. C-130 Hercules transport aircraft dropped arms, ammunition, and extreme-weather clothing for Indian troops, fighting pitched battles at 16,000 feet in cotton uniforms. U.S. planes also flew reconnaissance missions along the border. 6. Vasabjit Banerjee and Benjamin Tkach have a short [article](https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/indias-preferences-for-arms-acquisitions/) for ORF have used a game theoretical model to identify dominant strategies for both US and India on arms production. They conclude that whether India prefers strategic autonomy or allies with the Quad, India's aatmanirbhar defence production strategy is more preferable to both the US and India in comparison to Russia as a main vendor. 7. *Business Today* has [details](https://www.businesstoday.in/latest/world/story/how-will-sanctions-on-russia-impact-indias-defence-deals-with-moscow-324113-2022-02-27) on the weapon platforms partnership: > The main battle tank of the Indian Army are primarily Russian T-72M1 and T-90s. The sole operational aircraft carrier of the country's Navy is a refurbished Soviet-era ship and its whole complement of ground and fighter attack aircraft are made in Russia or manufactured in India through licence. Furthermore, four of the Navy's 10 guided-missile destroyers are Russian Kashin class, six of its 17 frigates are Russian Talwar class. The Navy's only nuclear-powered submarine is taken on lease from Russia.  Majority of the Indian Air Force's (IAF) 29-30 fighter squadrons operate Russian aircraft comprising around 272 multi-role Su-30MKIs fighters, awaiting an upgrade to 'Super Sukhoi' standard. Over 100 MiG 21 'Bis' are operated by the IAF. > > The most difficult and worrisome thing is the procurement of BrahMos missiles. The sanctions could seriously undermine India's $375-million BrahMos cruise missile export order to the Philippines as BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture between India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia. > > The defence equipment from Russia pending delivery to India comprise five Almaz-Antey S-400 Triumf self-propelled surface-to-air (SAM) missile systems, the provision of 20,000 Kalashnikov AK-203 7.62x39mm assault rifles, four Admiral Grigorovich Project 1135.6M frigates, and the leasing of one more Project 971 'Akula' (Schuka-B)-class nuclear-powered submarine (SSN).  > > Furthermore, India had signed agreements with Russia for supplies of a range of missiles and ammunition for use by the Indian Army. It is also in advanced talks with Russia to procure 12 Sukhoi Su-30MKI for the IAF, to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., and 464 Russian T-90MS main battle tanks for the Indian Army, amongst others. 8. *Indian Express* also has a similar [compilation](https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/india-russia-military-weapons-defence-ties-7795804/) of the nature of military dependence. 9. Manoj Joshi in *Hindustan Times* [argues](https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/breaking-with-russia-on-defence-is-difficult-101646749000459.html) that the military dependence is difficult to break - it's like a drug habit. the point is low costs was educational. > We have had close ties with the former Soviet Union since the mid-1950s and maintained Russia-favouring neutrality when it invaded Hungary in 1956, Afghanistan in 1980, and now, Ukraine. > > For its part, the former Soviet Union and now, Russia, has unreservedly endorsed India’s South Asia policy. It backed the liberation of Goa in 1961, maintained a largely neutral stand in the Sino-Indian war of 1962, and played a key role in helping India win the Bangladesh war in 1971. It has, all through, backed India on Kashmir, down to the 2019 effective nullification of Article 370, which bifurcated the state and demoted it to a Union Territory. > > The Soviets came through in the 1950s and 1960s with equipment such as MiG-21 fighters and Foxtrot submarines, whose equivalent our erstwhile mentor Britain refused to give. The Soviet Union had no concept of market prices, and so, all of it came at throwaway prices under rupee-ruble exchange arrangements along with technology transfer. We would never have been able to afford the size of the military that we have had since the 1980s with western equipment. The Soviet systems, grumbled a critic, were a drug habit that India could not break. > > New Delhi did seek to overcome the addiction in the 1980s by buying from the West, and also tried to design its own systems. Imports often got entangled with corruption, and domestic programmes, like that of the Tejas fighter and the Arjun tank, proved to be disappointing. India has not been able to field an aerial drone of any consequence, even though we have been working on this since the 1990s. > > After Russia emerged from the Soviet Union, arms purchases began to be designated in dollars, but there were still good deals available such as the licensed manufacture of the formidable Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter and the T-90S tanks that give India an edge against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) today. 10. Rohan Mukherjee [writes](https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/india-can-tackle-the-new-world-order-101648473909625.html?utm_source=ht_site_copyURL&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ht_site) in *Hindustan Times* that India's approach of strategic autonomy i.e. pursuing 'enlightened self-interest sans moralism' will continue to work in the future as well. He gives three reasons. One, Russia will continue to have leverage over China despite its weakened standing. Two, China is finding out that Russia is a liability for it, rather than an asset. And three, India's importance to the West will remain as long as China is a strategic threat. ## Colophon Note Owner: Pranay Kotasthane Status: [[Brewing]] Related to: [[Fallout of the Ukraine-Russia Conflict +]] Tags: #geopolitics #Russia-Ukraine #india #ukraine