India’s military ties with Russia will endure for decades: Analyst

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization leaders summit in Samarkand on September 16, 2022. “Today’s era is not an era of war. picture and I talked to you on the phone about Modi talking to Putin in a televised meeting.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have openly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine, analysts say, but the age-old friendship between the two countries will not be lost.

“Today’s era is not the age of war, and I talked to you on the phone about this,” Modi to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a televised meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, two weeks ago.

That marked a change in tone from the early days of the war, when India was seen as unwilling to criticize Russia, as it abstained from a UN vote criticizing the country. country about the invasion, among other things.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part, claims that Russia and India are “friends”, a month after Ukraine was invaded.

Despite India’s apparent shift in stance on the war, India still needs Russia, analysts told CNBC.

Against China

Harsh V. Pant, vice president for research and foreign policy at the Observer Research Foundation, a Delhi-based think tank, said: “India is in a unique position in the short term. need Russia to manage China.

Mr. Pant added that India needs the West in the long term in handling its relations with China, citing the country as “the most important strategic challenger to India.”

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China and India have been locked in a two-year border dispute in the Himalayas, although the armies of both sides have recently begun withdrawing from the west. But both still have thousands of soldiers lined up along the de facto border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Raymond Vickery, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the future of China-India relations will be a difficult one.

At a Regular Bulletin of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India in AugustThe spokesman asserted that India’s policies were “consistent” and “needless to repeat”, when asked about Delhi’s approach to the “One China” policy.

“Also, there is a whole Belt and Road Initiativeis really designed to give China control over the Indo-Pacific,” Vickery said.

BRI is China’s ambitious program to build physical and digital infrastructure to connect hundreds of countries from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Critics see it as a signature foreign policy of Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at expanding his country’s global influence.

During the recent SCO meeting, India refrained from reaffirming its support for China’s BRI.


Analysts say Russia is an important military partner and major supplier of weapons to India.

“Most of India’s conventional weapons are of Russian origin,” said Sameer Lalwani, a senior fellow at the American Institute for Peace. “[This] which means it relies heavily on Russia to maintain its force including spare parts, maintenance and upgrades for many years.

China's Xi and India's Modi are the last two people Putin wants to see to give him a cold shoulder.

According to data firm Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India is top Russian arms importer from 2017 to 2021and Russian equipment accounted for 46% of India’s arms imports.

Mr. Pant said that while it is a far cry from the 80% figure during the Cold War, it still reflects India’s “great dependence” on Russia, especially given the tension between India and China over Russia. LAC remains “very active.”

“Russia is still India’s most important [military] partners,” he added.

India also increased purchases of Russian oil after the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, benefited from a discounted rate.

Binding relationships will ‘last for decades’

India’s longstanding friendship with Russia is not going away – and that’s thanks to the country’s military dependence, according to Lalwani.

“Even if India is looking to centralize its defense capabilities, but without an amazing and exorbitantly expensive overhaul of its force structure, it will continue,” Mr. Lalwani said. continued dependence on Russian weapons, ammunition and auxiliary components for decades,” Lalwani said.

He added that India’s cruise missile exports to Southeast Asian countries could not have worked without the Russian propulsion system.

“Even if the India-Russia military relationship is on the verge of deterioration, it will persist for decades.”

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