India seeks to accelerate delivery of Russian S-400 anti-missile defense system after clashes with China


India pressures Russia to advance delivery of S-400 anti-missile defense system amid growing conflict with China

(Bloomberg) .- India is pressing Russia to accelerate delivery of an anti-missile defense systemAs ties to China deteriorate after the worst military confrontation between Asian nations in four decades.

The request comes when Chinese and Indian foreign ministers met on Tuesday In their first face-to-face interaction since a clash along their disputed border with the Himalayas killed 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops. India and China agreed to reduce the situation along their unmarked border, said the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, at a regular briefing on Tuesday in Beijing.

The clashes last week, along with revelations that China held 10 Indian soldiers in military custody for days before releasing them, came amid growing nationalism fueled by both governments as they fought for regional influence. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is very interested in an early resolution of the border dispute, as it risks a decline in popularity if the Army suffers more losses.

China and India try to ease tensions (AP Photo / Manish Swarup, File)
China and India try to ease tensions (AP Photo / Manish Swarup, File)

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, was the host of the virtual trilateral meeting with the Chinese Wang yi and the indian Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, after Moscow emerged as a key player in the thaw of relations between the two neighbors.

“India and China have all the means to solve any problem that may arise in their relationship”Lavrov said after the meeting. “I don’t think India and China need any help.”

Another meeting between the Minister of Defense, Rajnath Singh, and its Russian counterpart in Moscow could be just as important to India as increasing its defense capacity. They are expected to discuss tensions on the India-China border and New Delhi’s desire to ensure an early and unimpeded supply of Russia’s military spare parts, long one of the country’s leading defense providers.

Singh plans to seek advanced delivery of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile defense system – currently scheduled for December 2021 – and the purchase of the Russian-made Su-30Mki and MiG-29 fighters, people familiar with the matter said. India and Russia signed the S-400 deal worth more than $ 5 billion in 2018.

India seeks to strengthen its defense arsenal after clashes with China at the border (REUTERS / Danish Ismail)
India seeks to strengthen its defense arsenal after clashes with China at the border (REUTERS / Danish Ismail)

Balance

The missile system will provide the weight of the country’s outdated air defenses, while the additional fighters will increase the capacity of the Indian Air Force. It needs 10 more squadrons of fighters to complement the 32 currently in operation, the sources said, on condition of anonymity. A squadron has between 16 and 18 warplanes.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, To Bharat Bhushan Babu, declined to comment before the Moscow meetings.

The United States has warned India not to buy the S-400 system, claiming that the purchase would have a serious impact on defense ties between Washington and New Delhi.

Russia’s current contracts with India amount to $ 14.5 billion, while with China it is around $ 2 billion at the moment, said Konstantin Makienko, deputy head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a consultant. from Moscow for the defense industry, who noted that Russia is unlikely to accelerate delivery of the S-400 as it did with Turkey last year.

In that case, the President Vladimir Putin made the political decision to send his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the systems that were already in production for the Russian Defense Ministry, Makienko said. “The Russian military will not be happy if this becomes routine. In the case of India, there is still no clear reason to speed up delivery at the expense of the Russian army. ”

In principle, Russia would not advance the delivery of the S-400 defense system (Pavel Golovkin / Pool via REUTERS)
In principle, Russia would not advance the delivery of the S-400 defense system (Pavel Golovkin / Pool via REUTERS)

Maintain ties

Russia has not yet received an official request to speed up supplies, an official with knowledge of the situation said, requesting anonymity since the information is not public. Even if India requests it, it will be technically difficult for Russia to produce and ship the S-400 before 2021he added.

For now, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Russia to maintain good relations with both New Delhi and Beijing, said Alexander Gabuev, a China expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

“It is a very important test overall of Russia’s ability to balance its relations amid growing dependence on China, which is becoming increasingly assertive and pushing its partners to choose a side,” Gabuev explained. Still, India represents a key market and an opportunity for Moscow to diversify its relations in Asia away from dependence on China, he added.

The sale of the S-400 and advanced fighter jets to India will not ruin relations with China, said Igor Korotchenko, head of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade in Moscow. “India’s arms market is a priority for us (…) There is no problem here because of our ties to China”

(With information from Bloomberg / By Sudhi Ranjan Sen and Henry Meyer)

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