The US warned on Friday that it does not want India to rely on Moscow for military supplies, in a move to bolster efforts to cripple Russia. While Washington values its alliance with New Delhi, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby stated that the United States is “clear” in its belief that India cannot rely on Russia to meet its defence needs.
“We have been very clear with India as well as other nations that we don’t want to see them rely on Russia for defence needs. We’ve been nothing but honest about that and discouraging that,” US Defence Department spokesperson John Kirby said.
“India is a contributor of security in the region, and we cherish that,” Kirby said, referring to the meeting between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his American colleague Austin.
“We are looking at ways to improve it going ahead, as we demonstrated a week ago. That will continue because it is important and it matters “Added he.
Kirby’s statement comes after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin indicated earlier this month that India will “scale down” its reliance on Russian military technology during a Congressional hearing on the yearly defence budget on April 5.
He went on to say that continuing to invest in Russian defence weapons is not in their best interests. Austin went on to say that it is the Pentagon’s need that India downscale the types of equipment it invests in. Austin was responding to Congressman Joe Wilson’s remarks, in which Wilson criticized India for failing to speak out against Russia’s actions in Ukraine and then asked if Washington could ease restrictions and offer incentives in foreign military sales programmes to deter New Delhi from buying Russian weapons.
Partnership between India and Russia
In December 2021, India and Russia inked more than two dozen agreements, including a 10-year defence cooperation agreement. The bilateral defence agreement aims to “improve defence cooperation, including facilitating joint development and production of military equipment, components, and spare parts, enhancing the after-sales service system, progress toward mutual recognition of quality control, and regular joint exercises of the two countries’ Armed Forces,” according to a joint statement released by both parties.
In 2018, India and Russia agreed to purchase S-400 Triumrf air defence missile systems for $5 billion. The S-400 surface-to-air missile defence systems were first delivered in December.
According to a research published by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS), India is responsible for about a third of all Russian weaponry exports. According to a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India got 23% of overall Russian military exports between 2016 and 2020.
According to CNN, India and Russia have reached an agreement to manufacture over 6 lakh Russian AK-203 assault rifles in India. While India has not yet been sanctioned under the US CAATSA law, which prevents US allies from buying Russian armaments, analysts have warned that New Delhi’s present actions could lead to such a situation in the near future.