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Indian and Russian Defence Ties

Context:
  • Even as the most immediate impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on India is the evacuation of thousands of Indian students who are stuck there, it is becoming clear there will be long-term implications too.
    • New Delhi has been trying to walk a fine line, negotiating its relationships with the United States and other Western nations on one side, and the historically deep and strategic ties with Russia on the other, even as its stand is becoming incrementally critical to Russia as its forces continue to fight in Ukrainian cities.
    • However, both the sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries on Russia, and how Russia views Delhi’s slowly shifting stand are going to have a long-term impact, most significantly on the decades old defence trade between the two.
Relevance:

GS II- International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. How strong are Indian and Russian defence ties?
  2. What is the value of weapons India has bought from Russia?
  3. What are the kinds of weapons Russia has given India?

How strong are Indian and Russian defence ties?

  • India was reliant, almost solely on the British, and other Western nations for its arms imports immediately after Independence.
  • But this dependence weaned, and by the 1970s India was importing several weapons systems from the USSR, making it country’s largest defence importer for decades when it came to both basic and sophisticated weapons systems.
  • In fact, it has provided some of the most sensitive and important weapons platforms that India has required from time to time including nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, tanks, guns, fighter jets, and missiles.
  • According to several people, the defence trade, which remains significant, is one of the important causes why India has not taken a critical stand openly against Russia.
  • The legacy of buying weapons from Russia has made India somewhat dependent on it, and even though India has tried to expand the base of countries from which it buys new military systems, Russian-origin weapons still have the lion’s share.
  • According to one estimate, the share of Russian-origin weapons and platforms across Indian armed forces is as high as 85 per cent.

What is the value of weapons India has bought from Russia?

  • Russia is the second largest arms exporter in the world, following only the United States.
  • In the five-year period between 2016 and 2020 America’s share in the global arms trade was 37 per cent, compared to 20 per cent of Russia’s, as per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks the global arms trade and military expenditure.
  • For Russia, India is the largest importer, and for India, Russia the largest exporter when it comes to arms transfer.
  • Between 2000 and 2020, Russia accounted for 66.5 per cent of India’s arms imports.
  • Of the $53.85 billion spent by India during the period on arms imports, $35.82 billion went to Russia.
  • During the same period imports from the US were worth $4.4 billion, and from Israel it was worth US$ 4.1 billion.
  • According to a SIPRI report on international arms transfer trends published in March 2021, between 2016 and 2020 Russia delivered major arms to 45 states. “India remained the main recipient of Russian arms in 2016–20, accounting for 23 per cent of the total, followed by China (18 per cent).
  • Russia’s share in Indian arms imports was down to about 50 per cent between 2016 and 2020, but it still remained the largest single importer.

What are the kinds of weapons Russia has given India?

 At the moment there are two major defence deals between India and Russia that might be jeopardised by the current crisis.

S-400 Triumf air-defence system.
  • S-400 Triumf is one of the world’s most advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems designed by Russia.
  • The system is a large complex of radars, control systems and different types of missiles, with the capability to simultaneously track numerous incoming objects in a radius of a few hundred kilometres.
  • It can employ appropriate missile systems to launch the counter attack and to neutralise the objects with the potential of ensuring a high success rate.
  • It is among the most advanced in the world, and India placed an order for five units for around $5 billion in 2018.
  • The first unit was delivered in December 2021, and has been deployed at an Indian Air Force base in Punjab.
  • The deal has been under the threat of American sanctions, even as the US had not decided on it yet.
  • But the fresh round of sanctions on Russia could sound alarm bells for it.
BrahMos missile
  • The BrahMos is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land.
  • It is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world.
  • BRAHMOS is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India (DRDO) and the NPOM of Russia.
  • Brahmos is named on the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.
  • It is a two-stage (solid propellant engine in the first stage and liquid ramjet in second) air to surface missile with a flight range of around 300 km.
  • However, India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has extended the range of the BRAHMOS missile to reach 450 km-600km, a shade above its current MTCR capped range of 300 km.
  • Brahmos is a multiplatform i.e., it can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missile with pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions.
  • It operates on the “Fire and Forgets” principle i.e., it does not require further guidance after launch.
  • Brahmos is one of the fastest cruise missiles currently operationally deployed with speed of Mach 2.8, which is 3 times more than the speed of sound.
  • Russia has also been one of main exporters of fighter aircraft to India, including hundreds of Sukhoi and MiG jets.

-Source: Indian Express


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