- People in the know would agree that majority of the Indian military inventory is made up of Russian technology ever since the independence. Indian dependence on Russian military supplies continues to this day though there are other countries too in the fray making their presence felt in the multi-billion-dollar procurements. Rafael from France is one such diversification witnessed in recent times and there are many in the pipeline as well. Nonetheless, the Indo-Russian military ties will remain as stronger as ever despite the United States of America attempting to scuttle the same through unwarranted and largely unyielding sanctions.
- For the uninitiated, the US enacted the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in August 2017 specifically aimed at preventing revenue from flowing to the Russian government. Looking from any angle, the act is a crude tool hurting both friends and foes alike. As you are aware, India is an ally that fell within CAATSA’s purview as it had signed an agreement with the Russian government in 2016 to buy the S-400 air defence system. In a welcome move countering the same, two US senators who are co-chairs of the India Caucus wrote recently to President Joe Biden explaining why he should insulate India from the fallout of CAATSA.
- As such, Biden should take a long-term view of strategic ties with India and also America’s emerging challenges in the coming days as the geopolitical and geostrategic situation witnesses changes. Keeping the apparent hard facts in mind, Biden should take a call for a waiver. As mentioned above, while India has been diversifying its military equipment procurement, Russian-origin military platforms are still dominant. In other words, India-Russian defence ties will continue in the foreseeable future as well. Further, note that the S-400 was chosen simply because it is the most suitable for India’s security needs.
PC: Andrew Korybko
- Interestingly, this air defence missile has been bought by China too. However, it’s China’s own technological advancement rather than its imports that are leading to reassessments of where its strategic rivalry with the US stands. China is perpetually consolidating its military strength by inducting advanced equipment. As reported, Beijing tested a hypersonic missile in August that orbited the globe before heading towards its target prompting the US Chairman of the joint chief of staff terming the same as sputnik moment. Even before the eastern Ladakh misadventure, the Indian establishment was working on strengthening our security needs with intent and urgency.
- It is well documented how India has worked extensively on a missile development programme with the Agni-5 missile being test-fired this week. This surface-to-surface missile has a range of up to 5,000 km and provides the possibility of a second-strike capability. It makes imminent sense for the US to consider a long-term view owing to the fast-growing strategic rivalry between the US and China. Therefore, tying down a fellow Quad member through an ill-conceived sanctions programme meant to hurt Russia will be counterproductive. Biden should grant India a waiver as a pragmatic gesture as well as working on deepening defence ties too.