The Russia-Ukraine war erupted on the evening of 24th February, 2022 and is currently on-going in Ukraine. Its impact has been felt widely around the globe and India too is not an exception. Russia has been the main contributor of advanced defence weapons and training programmes of the Indian defence since independence. Hence, it is necessary for India to have backup plans in case the Russia-Ukraine war escalates into a global World War III.
Why India needs to import weapons?
The Indian defence consists of 3 main wings – Army, Navy and Air Force. Despite having the largest number of soldiers and armed men in uniform in the world, India still lags behind in its weapon industry. While India manufactures most of its defence weapons, for advanced technical weapons, she has to import from Russia, Israel, France or even the US. The weapons have modernised in the modern world, involving technologies like artificial intelligence and integrated circuits, to enhance precision, damage, and self-defense. India has lagged a bit in this industry, despite having hostile neighbours, who are ready to plunge an attack into Indian territories. Russia and Israel formed crucial partners of India to maintain the Indian defence as par with most other developed countries.
How Ukraine-Russia war can affect our defence industry?
We have both short term and long term consequences here. In the short term, most of the deliveries of weapons from Russia are likely to be delayed. The delivery of the long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system S-400 Triumf ‘SA-21Growler’ could get delayed if the war continues. The delivery started in December last year and is expected to be completed by 2025, but the war is likely to postpone it, and in the worst case, may cancel it. The production of AK-203 riles is likely to get slower, and acquiring them from Russia right now is even tougher. Two Grigorovich-class ‘Project 1135.6’ frigates for the navy are in the middle of construction at a shipyard in Russia. Its delivery will most likely be hampered by the war. Even the products which are ready faces hurdles in the payment system, as Russia has been banned from SWIFT, the main International Banking System.
Is there any impact due to the long term consequences?
The long term consequences will be far worse for India for which India needs to change its strategy from being entirely dependent on Russia on its military strength. In the long term, as US and other European countries are also defence partners of India, India cannot sign a pact or deal with Russia in terms of defence. Any kind of bonding with Russian defence will raise suspicion among the western countries, which may isolate India similar to what Russia has been facing currently. No military drill, technology transfer, or joint exercise can be conducted between the countries during the aftermath of war. Russia, being an ally of China for years, will likely remain neutral in case of an attack from China in Arunachal Pradesh or Ladakh. However, the current infrastructure does not permit India to sever all defence ties with Russia, as India faces threats from the west, the north and even the military jungta regime in the east.
So, what is the solution?
The short term solution is to abstain from voting in the UN and side with neither NATO nor Russia. The long term solution is ‘Atmanirbhar’ in defence. ‘Atmanirbhar’ means self-dependent, which likely will reduce dependency of Indian defence to foreign countries. However, it is easier said than done. India need to produce up-skilling in various technology fields, need good leadership in defence drills and trainings, and also produce all or most of the raw materials. As the Prime Minister of India said, we are moving towards being ‘Atmanirbhar’ in the near future, India’s prime focus of being self-dependent should now be on the defence industry.
Written by – Himadri Paul