India Blames West for Its Dependence on Russia for Weapons

EAM Jaishankar subtly hit out at the United States for preferring Pakistan as a partner over India in the past. He turned the table on the United States, which pressed India hard to lessen its dependence on Russia for defence equipment, particularly over the past few months since President Vladimir Putin ordered the launch of “special military operations” in Ukraine.

“When you asked about the military equipment issue – we have as you know a substantial inventory of Soviet and Russian-origin weapons, and that inventory actually grew for a variety of reasons – you know, the merits of the weapon systems themselves, but also because for multiple decades, western countries did not supply weapons to India and, in fact, saw a military dictatorship next to us as the preferred partner,” the External Affairs Minister said.

He was addressing a joint news conference with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong.

“We make judgements which are reflective of both our future interest as well as our current situation, and my sense is in terms of this current conflict, like every military conflict, there are learnings from it, and I am sure my very professional colleagues in the military would be studying it very carefully,” said Jaishankar, responding to another question on the possibility of New Delhi rethinking its defence relationship with Moscow, in view of the performance of Russia’s weapon systems in its conflict with Ukraine.

India’s traditional defence ties with Russia has been an irritant in its ties with the US. The spectre of the US CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) sanctions looms large over India for its October 2018 deal to procure five S-400 air defence systems from Russia at an estimated cost of nearly Rs 39,000 crore. India overlooked the US frowns and inking an agreement with Russia to extend bilateral military technical cooperation and moving to expand defence cooperation between the two nations, citing challenges posed to its security by “unprovoked aggression” by China.

Jaishankar, however, declined to reveal how India would vote during the forthcoming debate at the United Nations General Assembly on Russia’s annexation of territories in Ukraine.