Russia fails to supply arms to India because of war

Published March 24, 2023
This file photo shows Russian servicemen sitting in the cabins of S-400 missile air defence systems in central Moscow on April 29, 2019. — Reuters/File
This file photo shows Russian servicemen sitting in the cabins of S-400 missile air defence systems in central Moscow on April 29, 2019. — Reuters/File

NEW DELHI: Russia is unable to deliver vital defence supplies it had committed to India’s military because of the war in Ukraine, the Indian Air Force (IAF) says.

New Delhi has been worried that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 could affect military supplies from India’s largest source of defence equipment. The IAF statement is the first official confirmation of such shortfalls.

The IAF statement was made to a parliamentary committee, which published it on its website on Tuesday. An IAF representative told the panel Russia had planned a “major delivery” this year that will not take place.

A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in New Delhi said: “We don’t have information which may confirm the stated.”

There was no immediate response from Rosoboron export, which is the Russian government’s weapons export arm. The report does not mention specifics of the delivery.

The biggest ongoing delivery is the S-400 Triumf air defence system units India bought in 2018 for $5.4 billion. Three of these systems have been delivered and two more are awaited.

IAF also depends on Russia for spares for its Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighter jets, the mainstay of the service branch.

Russia — and the Soviet Union before it — has been India’s main source of arms and defence equipment for decades.

Russia accounted for $8.5bn of the $18.3bn India has spent on arms imports since 2017, according to the latest data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Over the past two decades, New Delhi has sought to reduce its dependence on Moscow and looked westward towards France, the United States and Israel.

It is also pushing Indian companies to produce more at home in collaboration with global players.

The IAF also informed the parliamentary panel that the Russia-Ukraine war affected its supplies so much that it slashed its projected capital expenditure on modernisation for the financial year ending March 31, 2024 by nearly a third compared to the previous fiscal year.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023

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