India is looking into ways to avoid a major disruption in its supply of Russian-made weapons as a result of US sanctions imposed in response to Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tightrope walk may become even more difficult as a result of the ongoing border standoff with China and Pakistan.
Experts estimate that up to 60% of Indian defense equipment comes from Russia. And New Delhi is in a bind at a time when it is locked in a two-year standoff with China over a territorial dispute in eastern Ladakh, with tens of thousands of soldiers within shooting distance. In 2020, a clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers resulted in the deaths of twenty Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers.
“The nightmare scenario for India would be if the US concludes that it confronts a greater threat from Russia and that this justifies a strategic accommodation with China. In blunt terms, concede Chinese dominance in Asia while safeguarding its European flank,” Shyam Saran, India’s former foreign secretary, wrote in a recent blog post.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia contributed approximately 49 percent of India’s defense imports from 2016 to 20; the French and Israeli contributions were 18 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
India was also among the countries that abstained from voting on UN resolutions condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine. After which, President Joe Biden has spoken about unresolved differences with India over this matter. Although, Modi has so far refrained from voting against Russia or criticizing its actions.