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14 Mar, 2024 15:41

India not abandoning Russian weaponry – envoy

The South Asian country is the world’s largest arms importer
India not abandoning Russian weaponry – envoy

Moscow’s ambassador to India, Denis Alipov, has denied allegations that New Delhi is abandoning Russian weapons. In an interview with TASS published on Thursday, the envoy said that almost 1,000 T-90 tanks and 300 Su-30MKI aircraft have already been produced in India under manufacturing licenses.

Alipov’s statement comes amid reports that New Delhi is pivoting away from buying arms from Moscow, traditionally its largest supplier. India is the world’s largest arms importer and accounted for 9.8% of the total global arms purchases between 2019 and 2023, data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows.

Russia accounted for 36% of New Delhi’s arms imports during this period, indicating a decrease in overall share.

”India is trying to develop its own military-industrial complex,” Alipov explained. “The emphasis in the field of military-technical cooperation is on the implementation of the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Self-sufficient India’ initiatives.”

Last month, the Indian government increased its annual target for defense and aerospace production to $36 billion, while raising the weapons-export target to $6 billion.

India and Russia have adopted technology transfers and joint production of Su-30MKI fighters, T-90 tanks, and AK-203 assault rifles. The BrahMos missile, which was jointly developed by the two nations, is considered the main weapon of the Indian Navy.

“Unlike the Westerners,” Alipov said, “Russia is ready to make the most complete transfer of advanced technologies.”

The Russian envoy also noted that cooperation between the two nations continues to develop in traditional areas (energy, nuclear energy, military-technical cooperation, space, science, education, healthcare, culture, tourism) and new areas such as fintech and artificial intelligence.

India has continued to buy crude oil and coal from Russia amid constant scrutiny from the West and allegations that it has helped ease the impact of sanctions. Senior diplomats in New Delhi, however, have vehemently defended the country’s “pragmatic” decision and cited historical ties as the reason for maintaining close trade and diplomatic relations with Moscow.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has described the sanctions as “levers” used by the West which the wider world does not agree with. According to Alipov, unilateral sanctions are not recognized in India and are considered illegitimate.

Alipov acknowledged, however, that the trade imbalance between the two countries is a problem, and must be solved by increasing Indian exports. Last year, while bilateral trade turnover reached $65 billion, Indian exports to Russia accounted for about $4 billion.

Speaking to RT last month, Ajay Sahai, the head of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations, revealed that many Indian companies are looking to Russia in “a big way.” India’s exports to Russia are likely to exceed $4.5 billion this year, according to the official.