A US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report says that the Indian military cannot operate effectively without Russian-supplied equipment while the Indian military will continue to rely on Russian weapons systems in the near and middle terms.
Since 2010, Russia has been the source of nearly two-thirds (62%) of all Indian arms imports and India has been the largest Russian arms importer and has accounted for nearly one-third (32%) of all Russian arms exports. Between 2016 and 2020, India accounted for nearly one-quarter (23%) of Russia's total arms exports and Russia accounted for roughly half (49%) of Indian imports, the CRS report said adding:
According to The Military Balance 2021, India's present military arsenal is heavily stocked with Russian-made or Russian-designed equipment. The Indian Army's main battle tank force is composed predominantly of Russian T-72M1 (66%) and T-90S (30%).
The CRS report comes ahead of a crucial decision that the Biden administration has to take on India buying military arms from Russia, whether it plans to impose sanctions against the country under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Robert Menendez publicly asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to dissuade India from completing the S-400 deal, saying such a purchase would "clearly constitute a significant, and therefore sanction-able, transaction with the Russian defense sector under Section 231 of CAATSA."
The CRS report titled 'Russian Arms Sales and Defense Industry,' pointed out that the Indian Navy's sole operational aircraft carrier is a refurbished Soviet-era ship, and its entire complement of fighter and ground attack aircraft are Russian-made or produced in India on license (the Navy's fighter fleet comprises 43 MiG-29K/KUBs).
Four of the Navy's 10 guided-missile destroyers are Russian Kashin class, and 6 of its 17 frigates are Russian Talwar class. The Navy's sole nuclear powered submarine is on lease from Russia, and 8 of the service's 14 other submarines are Russian-origin Kilo class. Finally, the Indian Air Force's 667-plane FGA fleet is 71% Russian-origin (39% Su-30s, 22% MiG-21s, 9% MiG-29s).
All six of the service's air tankers are Russian made Il-78s.140 In 2019, Russia and India launched a dedicated joint venture, Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited, to mass-produce AK-203 assault rifles in northern India.
S-400 Russian missile system
The CRS report noted that India's plan to purchase Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, in progress since 2016, could trigger U.S. sanctions on India under Section 231 of CAATSA. Indian planners appear to have concluded that alternatives to the S-400 offered by Washingtonthe Patriot and THAAD systemslack the purported range and versatility of the Russian equipment.
Despite a trend away from Russian arms imports, India in late 2019 submitted $800 million toward the full $5.4 billion contract for S-400 systems.
Recent press reports indicate New Delhi is going "full steam ahead" with S-400 inductionthe first deliveries are set for autumn 2021, to be completed by early 2023. In August 2021, Russian officials said S-400 deliveries would begin by the end of 2021.
CRS report on Chinese arms imports from Russia
China is Russia's second-largest arms export client, importing 18% of all Russian arms from 2016 to 2020.
After 2006, Russian arms exports to China dropped dramatically. Analysts have identified several reasons for this shift, including that China's reliance on Russian weaponry weakened as China's own defense industry matured and developed. China became unwilling to accept older technology as it became increasingly able to produce many of the systems it previously imported, which some analysts argued was the product of reverse engineering while others noted the possibility of joint production agreements between Russia and China, according to CRS.
Most recently, Russian exports to China focus on a smaller number of deals for advanced systems, including the S-400 and Su-35S.
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