The ongoing Ukraine crisis raises the question for India regarding dependence on arms imports from Russia. While the nation has faced the hostile situation of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, Russia remains the main source of weapons suppliers to India. Russian-made weapons imports fell by 19% for the five years in 2018, according to a research report issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an independent think tank which analyses conflict causes, weapon sales and disarmament.
According to the research report, “Russia was the huge supplier of weapons to India in both years 2013–17 and 2018–22, however, it has a share of entire Indian weapons imports falling from 64% to 45%.” India is the global arms market to three significant countries – Russia, Israel and France. Indian arms dependence on Moscow for weapons is one of the elements behind New Delhi’s calculated stance on the war in Ukraine. However, the country faced high pressure from the diplomatic channels of western countries. The south Asian countries have supported calls for a ceasefire and diplomatic solution to end the Russia-Ukraine war. India had a long history to import weapons from Russia in the 1950s.
“Indian hot and cold strains with neighbours like China and Pakistan, are the main reason to raise their demand for weapons imports. With an 11% share of total global arms imports, India was the world’s biggest importer of major arms in 2018–22, a position it held for the period 1993–2022. It retained this position even though its arms imports dropped by 11% between 2013–17 and 2018–22,” as per the new report on global arms transfers issued by SIPRI.
“The slowdown can be attributed to various elements comprising India’s steady and composite arms procurement procedure, trying to diversify its weapons suppliers, and aim to replace imports with crucial arms that are designed and manufactured domestically,” they further added.