The bilateral relations between India and Russia have stood the test of time and have been rock solid over the years. The two countries are close allies despite India’s closeness with the US and Russia’s animosity towards the US.
Russia has unwittingly become a major player in the border stand-off between India and China as Russia is a key defence supplier to both the countries. As tensions continue to escalate at the LAC, India has ordered fighters jets and arms and ammunition from Russia on an emergency basis, much to the displeasure of China. Expectedly, China urged Russia to not sell arms to India to which Russia has responded by expediting its arms export to India after the visit of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The Chinese Communist Party through its propaganda outlet, People’s Daily attempted to desist Russia from delivering arms to India in the current backdrop of birder conflicts between India and China. The propaganda outlet took to Facebook to write, “As experts say, if Russia wants to soften the hearts of the Chinese and Indians, it is better not to deliver arms to India in such a sensitive moment. Two Asian powers are Russia’s very close strategic partners.”
It further added, “Despite the fact that the situation on the border remains tense, Delhi and Beijing refrain from new sharp steps and harsh rhetoric towards each on the eve of Russian, Indian, Chinese foreign ministers’ video-conference on June 23”.
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) June 23, 2020
Clearly, the CCP appears to be rattled after India decided to urgently order 33 fighter jets of the Su-30 MKI and MiG-29 UPG class from Russia as the Centre has recently earmarked Rs 500 crore to strengthen India’s military capabilities.
Rajnath Singh’s visit to Moscow assumed great significance in the current environment as after his visit, Russia has now assured an early delivery of weapons system. Singh who visited Moscow to attend the 75th Victory Day Parade after meeting Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said, “My discussions were very positive and productive. I have been assured that ongoing contracts will not just be maintained, but in a number of cases will be taken forward in a shorter time.”
While it has not yet revealed which weapons system will be delivered faster, but its is believed that India wants the S-400 anti-air defence systems on an urgent basis which will give India an edge over China. The S-400 was slated to be delivered by late 2021 but India has requested for an early delivery given the obvious advantages of the weapon system which is the most powerful missile defence system in the world.
“All our proposals have received positive response from the Russian side. I am fully satisfied with my discussions,” said Rajnath Singh who is also scheduled to hold meetings with the top Russian officials.
— Geeta Mohan گیتا موہن गीता मोहन (@Geeta_Mohan) June 23, 2020
It is a myth that China and Russia are close friends wherein reality, their “friendship” is a bubble waiting to be burst.
Russia is under crippling US sanctions which have severely dented its economy and is becoming poorer by the day. Russia has one of the best defense manufacturing capabilities but it’s unable to sell it to nations, as America has labeled Russia as an “adversary” under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which has also been applied on countries like North Korea and Iran and effectively means that any major trade with these countries is problematic for countries that value the USA’s favour and friendship.
As the US started an economic and diplomatic onslaught against China, it was only natural for China and Russia to align strategically and step up their co-operation which has resulted in Russia becoming China’s biggest arms supplier as the country accounted for 70% of Beijing’s arms imports between 2014-2018.
However, this hasn’t stopped China from doing what it does best: Steal. Rostec which state-owned defense conglomerate has accused China earlier this year of stealing its intellectual property.
“Unauthorized copying of our equipment abroad is a huge problem. There have been 500 such cases over the past 17 years. China alone has copied aircraft engines, Sukhoi planes, deck jets, air defense systems, portable air defense missiles, and analogues of the Pantsir medium-range surface-to-air systems,” said Yevgeny Livadny, Rostec’s chief of intellectual property projects.
China’s modus operandi is simple, buy a few jets from Russia which they can reverse engineer and make a copy which will be mass-produced for its military and allies like Pakistan. Russia can only disdain about this fact as it has been crippled by American sanctions and will be left nowhere to go if it decides to stop selling arms to China.
It is only a matter of time before the friendship bubble is burst as China is fast becoming a defence manufacturer in its own might as it looks to export China-made defence equipment to other countries after successfully reverse engineering Russian defence equipment.
The fact that Russia has not only pledged to honour India’s existing contracts but is also looking to expedite the delivery of arms to India is a tight slap on China and its wolf-warrior diplomacy.