The United States of America tried strongarming India into abandoning Russia. With time, Washington got even more desperate. Russia’s war in Ukraine has fluttered many feathers in the United States, and the Biden administration is quite literally on the edge. However, what Joe Biden is doing is a mistake. He first threatened India, and now, is resorting to salesmanship. The United States has now declared that India should decouple from Russia, end its reliance on Russian defence equipment and let Washington take care of its military needs instead.
The Pentagon has stepped in too. Addressing a press conference, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said, “We’ve been very clear with India as well as other nations that we don’t want to see them rely on Russia for defence needs. We’ve been nothing but honest about that and discouraging that.”
However, the Pentagon added, “At the same time, we also value the defence partnership that we have with India. And as was evidenced a week ago, we’re looking at ways to improve that going forward. That’s going to continue because it matters and it’s important.”
On Thursday, US State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet said the Biden administration is eager to work with India as it diversifies its defence capabilities and suppliers. Separately, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the US would work with India to help it reduce its traditional reliance on Russian weapons.
Thanks, but will U.S. Support India like Russia Does?
The entire American machinery, consisting of the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon is working to placate India and convince it to dump Russia. The United States senses an opportunity here. It wants to use the war in Ukraine to convince India that it is willing to become New Delhi’s primary defence and security partner.
Make no mistake, the offer is indeed tempting. American weapons are lethal and a class apart. They can tilt the scales for any fighting force on the battlefield. A major reason why Ukraine is still being able to fight Russia is the availability of American and European weapons in its armoury.
India already considers the United States a primary defence partner, and imports high-end weapon systems and launchers from Washington.
However, what the United States is demanding is for India to dump Russia completely. That is not remotely sensible for a country like India, which is looking to grow self-sufficient in the defence sector.
Will the United States allow Transfer of Technologies?
India’s arms imports fell 33% between 2011-15 and 2016-20. Interestingly, Russia was the most affected supplier, which saw its exports to India drop by 22%. India’s top three arms suppliers during 2016-20 were Russia (49%), France (18%) and Israel (13%).
There is a common factor binding India’s three major arms suppliers. They all share their technologies with India or are eager to do so. Russia and Israel are by far the most forthcoming when it comes to joint ventures between their defence manufacturers and those in India. India is making a big push for ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in its defence sector.
To grow self-sufficient in this sector, transfer of technology is the buzz term. Major suppliers of Indian defence needs must be willing to share their defence technologies with us. Russia always remains ready to do so.
The question is, will the United States be willing to share its defence technologies with India? The answer is no.
Here’s the thing – unless the U.S. shares its defence technologies with India, it cannot expect New Delhi to cut down its reliance on Russia. Imagine India dumping Russia for the United States, only to find out that our push for self-sufficiency in the defence sector has come to a grinding halt. That would be catastrophic for India. Therefore, the United States, unless it agrees to treat India as an equal partner, cannot dictate terms to New Delhi. India will buy weapons from whoever gives it the best deal.