India’s military equipment, spares, and associated supplies from Ukraine are insignificant, but Russia’s military readiness and acquisition of key critical goods will be significantly harmed if sanctions are imposed.
Several Russian products in the pipeline, such as missiles, nuclear submarines, tanks, weapons, and even helicopters, may be postponed unless New Delhi takes a stand to defy the sanctions imposed by the US on Moscow two days ago.
India is already balancing between old ally Russia and new buddy the United States. Aside from the recently imposed sanctions on Russia, the US Congress approved the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in 2017, which allows for punitive steps against any country doing business with Russia’s defence and intelligence industries.
Turkey has been subjected to the CAATSA. Despite the CAATSA threat, India has decided to proceed with the purchase of Russian S-400 air defence missile systems.
It remains to be seen whether India will resist the restrictions imposed as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the penalties that followed. Four S-400 systems are still awaiting delivery. Last November-December, the first one was delivered.
The delivery of four Talwar class warships (known as Admiral Grigorovich Project 1135.6M frigates), two of which are being built in Russia and the other two in India, could be delayed. Zoria-Mashproekt, a Ukrainian engine manufacturer, has previously provided engines for two Russian warships under construction. An agreement was reached with Goa Shipyard Limited for the two more warships.In addition, the two countries are in talks to manufacture the Kamov 226 helicopter in India, with a Sarfan France engine. Russia has been sanctioned by the EU, of which France is a member.
Russia is also assisting India in miniaturising the nuclear reactor for four nuclear submarines currently under construction in Visakhapatnam, where India built its first nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant.
According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a think tank based in Sweden, India is the second largest weaponry importer for the period 2016-20. According to the data released in March 2021, New Delhi accounted for 9.5 percent of all imports during the time, with Russia accounting for 49 percent of all imports.
Important Defence Acquisitions and Deals
- S-400 missile systems: First delivered and four awaited
- Talwar class warships: Two being made in Russia, two in India
- ‘Akula’ class N-submarine: India in talks for lease from Russia
- AK-203 rifles: Pact signed for supply of 20,000 rifles; 6 lakh rifles to be made in India
- T-90 tanks: India looking to procure 460 tanks, besides Sukhoi 30MKI and MiG-29 jets
- BrahMos: Jointly manufactured with Russia, the missiles are to be exported to Philippines under a $375 billion deal