How Dependent is India on Russia’s Weapons?
New Delhi has been trying to walk a fine line, negotiating its relationships with the United States and other Western nations on one side, and the historically deep and strategic ties with Russia on the other, even as its stand is becoming incrementally critical to Russia as its forces continue to fight in Ukrainian cities.
How strong are Indian and Russian defence ties?
- Immediately after independence, India was almost entirely dependent on the British and other Western nations for its arms imports.
- However, by the 1970s, India was importing several weapons systems from the Soviet Union (now Russia), making it the country’s largest defence importer for decades.
- When it comes to arms transfer, India is the largest importer of Russia and the largest exporter of India.
- Russian-made weapons and platforms account for up to 85 per cent of the Indian armed forces.
- Russia is the world’s second-largest arms exporter, only behind the United States.
What is the value of weapons India has bought from Russia?
- Between 2000 and 2020, Russia accounted for 66.5 per cent of India’s arms imports. Of the $53.85 billion spent by India during the period on arms imports, $35.82 billion went to Russia. During the same period imports from the US were worth $4.4 billion, and from Israel it was worth US$ 4.1 billion.
- Between 2016 and 2020, Russia’s share in Indian arms imports fell to around 50%, but it still remained the largest single importer.
|What are the kinds of weapons Russia has given India?
•At the moment there are two major defence deals between India and Russia:
Deal to buy five units of the state-of-the-art S-400 Triumf air-defence system
India and Russia had just signed a deal to manufacture around 6 lakh AK 203 rifles at a factory in Amethi.
•The first submarine India ever got was also Soviet. The first Foxtrot Class submarine bought from the USSR entered Indian service in 1967 as INS Kalvari.
•India is also in talks with Russia to lease two nuclear-ballistic submarines, Chakra 3 and Chakra 4.
•The only aircraft carrier in service with India, INS Vikramaditya is a Soviet-made Kiev-class vessel that came into service for the Indian Navy in 2013.
•Russia has also been one of main exporters of fighter aircraft to India, including hundreds of Sukhoi and MiG jets.
Is India trying to expand its weapons base?
- There have been continuous efforts in recent years to expand the weapons platform bases not only to other countries but even within the United States.
- According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) India’s arms imports declined by 33% between 2011 and 2016.
- In 2011–15, the United States was India’s second-largest arms supplier, but in 2016–20, India’s arms imports from the United States were 46% lower than the previous five-year period, making the United States India’s fourth-largest supplier.
- In 2016–20, France and Israel were India’s second and third largest arms suppliers, respectively.
- India’s arms imports are expected to rise over the next five years due to outstanding deliveries of combat aircraft, air defence systems, ships, and submarines.
- As a result, it is essential for India to diversify its base in order to avoid being overly reliant on a single nation, which could constitute a leverage point for that country.
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