Boris Johnson is grilled on India and Modi’s stance on Russia
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New Delhi is reportedly scrambling to slash its ties with Moscow, which it relies on for imports of ammunition and military gear. Now, India is said to be eying up its domestic firms and eastern European nation to get this equipment from them instead. According to two government officials and a defence source, India has been rushing more urgently than usual to boost domestic weapons production and ramp up imports from other partners since Russia invaded Ukraine.
But the country has continued to hand Putin billions for these lethal imports, despite pushbacks from the West.
In fact, India operates more than 250 Su-30 MKi Russian-made fighter jets, as well as seven kilo-class submarines.
India’s army also used Russian Kalashnikov rifles, Mi-17 transport helicopters and a navy aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya that formerly belonged to Russia.
It also has over 1,200 Russian-made T-90 tanks in its arsenal.
And over the last 10 years, India has handed Russia over $25billion (£20billion), according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
But to change this, India has said it wants its domestic firms to make 25.15billion rupees (£260million) worth of defence equipment this year.
Air Marshal Vibhas Pande, leader of maintenance operations for the Indian Air Force, said this month: “The present world order and geopolitical scenario, which is very, very turbulent, has also taught us a lesson.
“If we want to provide certainty and stability … the only option is to have a totally self-reliant or self-sustained supply chain mechanism established within the country.”
This comes after Indian President Narendra Modi was accused of taking a soft stance on Russia.
For instance, abstained in multiple UN security council votes against Russian activity.
But according to a senior government official, India wants to manufacture at least half of its defence equipment domestically now.
And the US is also said to be preparing a military aid package for India to help the country wean itself off Russian weapons, The Tomes of India reports.
According to people familiar with the matter, the package would include the financing of up to $500million (£424million).
It comes after the remaining members of the Quad, a strategic alliance between the US and India which also includes Japan and Australia, called for Mr Modi to put more pressure on Putin.
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Manjari Chatterjee Miller, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations said: “Despite efforts at diversification, India’s military hardware is still almost 70 percent Russian.”
She added that India “has to continue to rely on Russia for parts, maintenance and upgrades”.
And India has had a long-delayed plan to procure 114 fighter jets to boost its fleet and replace some older Russian fighters.
This is estimated to cost between $15billion (£12billion) and $18billion (£14billion).
This represents a significant chunk of India’s total $70billion (£56billion) defence budget for 2021/2022.
Ian Hall, author of “Modi and the Reinvention of Indian Foreign Policy” said: “New Delhi also lacks options to replace military systems like air defence platforms it cannot easily get elsewhere.”
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