Russia is unable to satisfy its arms delivery promises to India because of the crisis in Ukraine, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has claimed, putting potential pressure on New Delhi’s relationship with its major defense supplier as Moscow strives to bolster weapons production.
According to a report from an Indian legislative committee, an IAF representative stated that owing to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, a “big rendition” from Moscow “was not going to take place.”
The acknowledgment, which was released in a report by the Lower House of the Indian Parliament on Tuesday, is the first formal confirmation by Indian officials amid speculations and local media reports alleging Russian incompetence.
They have informed us in writing that they are not able to deliver it,” one official is cited as saying in the document.
CNN has contacted the Russian embassy in New Delhi but has not yet heard back as of this writing.
The article makes no note of the delivery’s specifics. The pieces of the S-400 Triumf air defense system India purchased in 2018 for $5.43 billion represent the largest ongoing shipment. Reuters reported that three of these systems had been delivered, and two more are expected.
According to the Stockholm International Institute for Peace Research (SIPRI), Russia is the second largest arms exporter in the world.
Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated earlier this month that he was ordering a massive boost in military production capacity, calling it “urgently needed.”
Putin’s order also followed repeated complaints from Wagner’s boss Yevgeny Prigozhin that his mercenaries were not receiving enough ammunition in their protracted battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut.
New Delhi maintains strong ties with Moscow, dating back to the Cold War. It remains heavily dependent on the Kremlin for its military equipment, a vital link given ongoing tensions along India’s Himalayan border with an ever-growing China more aggressive.
IAF’s admission is “extremely serious,” says Harsh V. Pant, Observer Research Foundation’s vice president for research and foreign policy in New Delhi.
“I think it underscores the problems that (India) has been having in this relationship for quite some time,” he added. “And the Ukraine crisis has accelerated the trend that India has long been trying to diversify, and was concerned about its overreliance on Russia.”
Despite a decline in defense imports from 62% to 45% between 2017 and 2022, Russia remains India’s largest arms supplier, according to SIPRI research published this month.
Several analysts have hypothesized that New Delhi’s efforts to increase the share of domestically manufactured machinery and diversify its imports are to blame for the decline.
In September, a State Department official claimed the United States was having “serious” discussions with India regarding New Delhi’s dependence on Russian arms and energy.
Russia “is no longer a reliable arms supplier,” and Indian representatives “are realizing that finding other markets could bring them real benefits,” the official told reporters in New York.
Since the start of the war in India, Ukraine, the world’s largest democracy, has carefully navigated a middle path.
About several UN resolutions condemning Moscow’s savage assault, New Delhi has remained silent. India has continued to buy oil, coal, and fertilizer from Russia despite Western sanctions, so bolstering the Kremlin’s position.
India has also maintained close ties with the West – particularly the United States – in its efforts to thwart China’s rise.
As Putin continues his aggression, skyrocketing food, and fuel prices, experts have suggested that Moscow’s actions in Ukraine may be testing New Delhi’s patience.
According to Pant of the Observer Research Foundation, the fact that the Indian Air Force went public with Russia’s failure to deliver weapons could be a sign of that tension.
“I think the relationship (between India and Russia) has been under strain for a long time,” he said. “It is now becoming clear that the current trajectory of this relationship is increasingly unsustainable (because of) what is happening in Ukraine.”