By: Chandrashekar Bhat
RUSSIA’S share of arms supply to India fell from 69 per cent in 2012-17 to 46 per cent in 2017-21, according to a report released on Monday (14) by the Stockholm-based defence think-tank SIPRI.
Russia started a war against Ukraine on February 24, which led the US and other western countries to impose harsh economic sanctions on the country.
“Between 2012–16 and 2017–21 Indian arms imports decreased by 21 per cent. Despite this, India was the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2017–21 and accounted for 11 per cent of total global arms imports in the period,” the report noted.
Russia was the largest supplier of major arms to India in both 2012–16 and 2017–21, but India’s imports of Russian arms dropped by 47 per cent between the two periods as several large programmes for Russian arms wound down, said the report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
This, combined with India’s increased efforts to diversify its arms supplier base, meant that Russia’s share of total Indian arms imports fell from 69 per cent to 46 per cent, it mentioned.
In contrast, India’s arms imports from France increased more than tenfold, making it India’s second-largest arms supplier in 2017–21, it stated.
Because of the perceived growing threats from China and Pakistan and because of significant delays in the production of its own major arms, India has large-scale plans for arms imports, it noted.
“The drop in India’s arms imports is, therefore, probably a temporary result of its slow and complex procurement process as well as its shift in suppliers,” it mentioned.
Globally, Russia’s arms exports fell by 26 per cent between 2012–16 and 2017–21, and its share of global arms exports decreased from 24 per cent to 19 per cent, it noted.
Russia delivered major arms to 45 states in 2017–21, it said.
In contrast to the US, Russia’s exports in 2017–21 were more concentrated as four states – India, China, Egypt and Algeria – together received 73 per cent of total Russian arms exports, it noted.
“The overall drop in Russian arms exports between 2012–16 and 2017–21 was almost entirely due to decreases in arms exports to India (-47 per cent) and Vietnam (-71 per cent),” it said.
While a number of arms export contracts signed over the past 10 years had been completed by the end of 2021, several large Russian arms deliveries are still pending and include eight air defence systems, four frigates and one nuclear-powered submarine to India, it stated.
Substantial increases in Russia’s arms exports to China (60 per cent) and Egypt (723 per cent) – the second and third largest recipients of Russian arms respectively – did not offset the overall decrease in its arms exports, it noted.
In 2017-21, both China and Egypt received air defence systems and combat aircraft from Russia, it stated.
“SIPRI has identified 163 states as importers of major arms in 2017-21. The top five arms importers – India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Australia and China – together received 38 per cent of total global arms imports in 2017–21,” it noted.