Even as India has moved closer to the United States than ever before, striking some sort of discomfort for the old ally Russia, the Modi government’s pro-activeness and diplomatic clout is showing results as Russia has rejected Pakistan government’s request to supply 50,000 AK series of assault rifles. According to the Print, Pakistan had requested to buy new generation Kalashnikov rifles and the Indian government registered its concerns with Russia. Russia has assured India that there will not be any military deal with Islamabad.
The Pakistani government’s proposal to buy 50,000 AK rifles came as surprise given the fact that Pakistani armed forces already use AK 56 which is a Chinese version of the Russian rifle. The Indian government has already seized many AK 56 guns from terrorists based in Jammu & Kashmir and the Northeast.
The prime concern of the Indian government was that Pakistan army would put the Russian made weapons in the hands of terrorists. This would have put the terrorists on par with Indian armed forces in terms of arms capabilities. The Indian intelligence agencies also flagged concerns of the Pakistani proposal to purchase of T90 tanks and new air defense systems. Pakistani government proposed to buy these weapons after Balakot air strike.
Pakistan has always liked to live on the mercy and generosity of superpowers. For decades, the Islamic country followed American directives in exchange of billions of dollars in military aid. After the Trump administration came to power, it dumped Pakistan and stopped the billions of dollars military assistance. As a result, in last few years, Pakistan relations improved with Russia. The successor of former Soviet Union lifted arms embargo and agreed to sell four Mi-35 helicopters to the Islamic republic. Russia also agreed to a 1.7 billion gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore. The growing coziness between both countries posed a problem for India and the Modi government raised the concern with Vladimir Putin led Russian government.
India’s ties with United States have improved significantly in last few years and this did not go very well with Russia. However, given the fact India is one of the largest arms importers from Russia, the country could not ignore India’s concerns.
India and Russia signed the US $5.2 billion S-400 air defense system deal. The two countries also signed eight pacts at the annual bilateral summit. The defense deal was signed in the background of fear of US sanctions. The deal was signed between the two countries after wide-ranging talks. Modi government has since then stood strongly in favour of the purchase despite US pressure to drop the S-400 deal with Russia. The two sides signed eight major pacts in areas across several sectors including defense, railways, nuclear energy, space and economy. A crucial MoU was also entered into between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Federal Space Agency of Russia ‘ROSCOSMOS’ on joint activities in the field of human spaceflight programme Gaganyaan.
India’s defense budget is six times more than that of Pakistan. India spends 4 lakh crore rupees last year on defense while whole budget of the Islamic country is around 3.2 lakh crore rupees. Therefore Russia could not afford to work against India because this would cost billions of dollars in to the country. Pakistan could not match Indian purchases given the fact the Pakistan economy is severely debt-ridden. So, the rejection of Pakistan’s request for the sale of AK series weapons by Russia would be mutually beneficial.