Tuesday, May 02, 2023

India and the arms trade

 The current war in Ukraine has resulted in a decline in the Russian arms trade. The current tensions between the U.S. and China have opened the door for debate about India's arms trade. Historically, India has received military equipment from Russia. Although India has diversified and is buying U.S. equipment, Russia is still the largest supplier of arms for India. This has caused American lawmakers to scramble to give India exemptions from the sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. 

    The move to provide India with a loophole is motivated largely by two reasons. First, it is to align U.S. and Indian interests in regard to China. The U.S. sees this relationship as essential in combating Chinese influence within the region. Second, it is to slowly wean India off from the Russian arms trade and into the western market. Rep. Ro Khanna introduced an amendment in the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which would provide India with such loopholes. Rep. Khanna sated, "They have so much of a legacy that it will take time for them to move away." However, questions remain due to India possessing the S-400 system, which caused Turkey to be removed from the F-35 program and sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

    The question remains what India will choose to do. It is likely that India will begin to shift to producing larger amounts of Russian equipment domestically, as it already has licenses to do so. But moving forward, India will need to find a new supplier for higher-end equipment. This remains a pressing issue for India, largely due to its current military makeup. According to Vasabjit Banerjee from a War on the Rocks article, India relies on Russia for parts for "20 of 34 fighter squadrons, 65 of 67 tank regiments, 28 of 55 air defense regiments, and all 30 mechanized infantry regiments."


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