Indo-Russia Deal: Regional Implications


On October 5, 2018, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an arms deal of S-400 missiles that cost almost $5.5 billion, during the India-Russia business summit. The S-400 triumf surface-to-air missile system, with a range of 400km can shoot up to 80 targets simultaneously, would add up to the Indian air-defense system within two years. India will be receiving ten battalions of the system, with a battalion normally consisting of 8 launchers, 112 missiles and the associated command, radar and support vehicle. The intergovernmental agreement between India and Russia, was made in 17th India Russia Summit, on the sale of five S-400 units in 2016. Russia is the top supplier of weapons to India, statistically, from 2012 to 2016 Russia supplied 68% of the India’s arms import whereas during this time US only supplied 14% of arms to India.

The deal between India and Russia has angered United States. And US has threatened India that it would impose sanctions on India under CAATSA (Countering American Adversaries through Sanction Act). Yet, the deal was successfully signed despite high pressure from the United States. According to New-Dehli they have to look at their strategic interest, and they cannot take pressure from Washington because the missiles are the need of hour for India. As a response of US’s threat, India has requested for a waiver from the sanctions, and it is more likely that they will get the waiver because the technical teams from US and India are meeting and trying to mitigate the concerns over the deal, and US has offered a “good deal” in exchange of the wavier, i-e to either sign a deal with US over F-16 or F-18. Keeping in mind that China was not spared last month for getting S-400 system and fighter jets and India is still most favored nation by United States, CAATSA effected India’s purchase of spare parts, components, raw materials and other assistance for which Indian entities are dependent on Russia for domestic license manufacturing and maintenance of existing equipment. It is less likely that United States would put sanctions on India because previously India was given the NSG wavier despite it was a violation according to NPT. India is one of the most important nation for US to keep an eye on China and Russia through it, as the relationship of US with Pakistan and China are obviously poor, India takes benefit of this situations and goes against the international laws and treaty to enhance its power capabilities.

The predicted reason behind India’s deal with Russia of S-400 is that India needs to counter the MIRVs. Last year Pakistan conducted the first test launch of its surface to surface nuclear capable Ababeel ballistic missile with a maximum range of 2200km. The missile is capable of delivering multiple warheads using Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology. Ababeel is aimed at ensuring the survivability of Pakistan’s ballistic missile system in the growing BMD’s environment in the region. It was produced as a weapon to deter any threat from the hostile neighbor. The development of Babur-3, submarine-launched cruise missile and ababeel worried India because Pakistan is now increasing the number as well as the quality of its defence systems.

One of the reasons why India went for arms deal with Russia is to balance power with China and to influence Pakistan. China too bought S-400 from Russia in September 2018. Now India has two adversaries to counter, on one hand it has Pakistan’s MIRV’s and on the other hand it has China’s S-400. In order to balance power with China, India had to buy missile for its security and Pakistan may think to balance power vis-a-vis India. Because the missiles have the capability of taking out an aircraft deep inside Pakistan. The deal has not only renewed the arms race but it would also destabilize the region because India’s relations with all its regional countries are problematic. India likes to keeps its hegemony over the small regional states for this purpose she is always busy in making ties and deals with the influential and beneficial states like US and Russia.  But what India have to deal with in the region is more than 20 fighter squadron, updated F-16’s and inducting J-17 from Pakistan and on the other hand China with its 1700 fighter jets including 800 4-Gen fighters. In order to create deterrence in the region India went for the S-400 and nuclear deal with Russia despite the international pressure.

The relationship between India and Pakistan have always been thorny. Because of the history that they share and the present conflict over Kashmir. They have fought four wars against each other than day to day border clashes. Both are nuclear powers and always finding a way to enhance their capabilities vis-à-vis each other. The region is always under tension because of the two adversaries. The present deal has raised concerns from Pakistan as there is a chance that India might use these missiles against Pakistan, but Pakistan has made sure that India knows that it has the capabilities of countering the threat.  Despite the S-400 deal, other point of concern for Pakistan is the nuclear deal between Russia and India signed alongside of S-400 deal.

However, the deal has not caused any problems with the Pakistan-Russia relationships as recently the third edition of their annual joint drills, Druzhba III, were conducted this week. Yet, Pakistan has showed his concerns over India-Russia deal, and said that Russia shouldn’t places its bets only on India now, as Islamabad and Moscow are getting closer on defence, trade and economic issues. After United States cold behavior towards Pakistan, it is now time for Pakistan to hold hands with Russia and maintain good relations with Russia and not repeat the same mistake as it did in the history. Russia and Pakistan are growing ties now and it’s time to remain consistent on it. Russia too is trying to balance its relations with both the countries and is very much successful in doing so.

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