India drops £413m weapons deal with Russia in major blow to Kremlin: ‘Long-term impact!’

Boris Johnson is grilled on India and Modi’s stance on Russia

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India has a huge reliance on Russia for weapons imports handing it more than $25billion (£20billion) over the last 10 years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. But India now appears to be slashing its dependence on Russia after tearing up a weapons deal. Earlier this month, India put negotiations with Russia to acquire 10 Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters on hold.

The deal would have seen the Kremlin rake in $520million (£413million).

Dr Sameer Patil, a senior fellow at ORF Mumbai, told Express.co.uk that this decision could be an indicator of “Indian thinking”, suggesting that New Delhi could be on the verge of ripping up more contracts.

He said: “There was a report two weeks back that India had dropped one helicopter deal with Russia.

“The report did not state whether this was because of sanctions, it could be because of other issues like price negotiations and these types of things.

“But that itself gives a sense that this is the Indian thinking on these future arms and equipment deals with Russia.”

Despite ripping up this deal, the two nations do still have close military ties, with a military and technical cooperation pact until 2031 still intact.

India operates more than 250 Su-30 MKi Russian-made fighter jets, as well as seven kilo-class submarines.

India’s army has also used Russian Kalashnikov rifles, Mi-17 transport helicopters and a navy aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya that formerly belonged to Russia.

It also has over 1,200 Russian-made T-90 tanks in its arsenal.

But India could be about to shake off this reliance on Russian arms.

New Delhi is reportedly eying up its domestic firms and eastern European nation to get this equipment from them instead.

According to two government officials and a defence source, India has been rushing more urgently than usual to boost domestic weapons production and ramp up imports from other partners since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Air Marshal Vibhas Pande, leader of maintenance operations for the Indian Air Force, said this month: “The present world order and geopolitical scenario, which is very, very turbulent, has also taught us a lesson.

“If we want to provide certainty and stability … the only option is to have a totally self-reliant or self-sustained supply chain mechanism established within the country.”

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Dr Patil noted: “India has been diversifying in terms of its defence supplies, but it still needs Russia for some major equipment.

“So, India will either look for newer sources of that particular equipment or capabilities or develop its own domestic defence industry’s capabilities to compensate for the Russian (weapons and equipment losses).”

Dr Patil said that if India did push through with this and scupper these links with the Kremlin, Putin would face “long-term” impacts.

He said: “The impact of this will be a long-term effect. The military equipment is a long drawn-out process, so India not buying the Russian equipment in the near future will have a long-term impact rather than a short-term impact while the Ukraine conflict is happening.”

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