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US laments India's defence ties with Russia; 'Don't want to see them rely on Moscow'

Source : Republic

US laments India's defence ties with Russia; 'Don't want to see them rely on Moscow'

In a bid to bolster efforts toward crippling Russia, the US on Friday stated that it does not want India to rely on Moscow for military supplies

Addressing a regular press briefing, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby mentioned that while Washington values New Delhi's partnership, it is "clear" on its notion that India must not depend on Russia to fulfil its defence needs.

"We have been very clear with India as well as other nations that we don't want to see them rely on Russia for defence needs. We've been nothing but honest about that and discouraging that," US Defence Department spokesperson John Kirby said.

Referring to the meeting held between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his American counterpart Austin, Kirby stated, "India is a provider of security in the region and we value that."

"As was evidenced a week ago we are looking at ways to improve that going forward. That's going to continue because it matters and it is important," he added.

Kirby's statement comes after earlier this month US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin during a Congressional hearing on the annual defence budget on April 5, Austin said that he expects India to "scale down" its dependence on Russian military equipment.

He added that it is not in their best interest to continue to invest in Russian defence weapons. Austin further underscored that it is Pentagon's requirement to go forward and downscale the types of equipment India is investing in. Austin Lloyd was responding to Congressman Joe Wilson's remarks, who had criticised India for failing to take a stand on Russia's actions in Ukraine, who went on to ask if Washington could ease restrictions and offer incentives in foreign military sales programs to deter New Delhi from purchasing from Russia.

India-Russia Partnership

India in December 2021 signed more than two dozen deals with Russia, including a 10-year defence cooperation pact. The bilateral defence deal is aimed at "upgrading the defence cooperation, including facilitating joint development and production of military equipment, components, and spare parts, enhancing the after-sales service system, progress towards mutual recognition of quality control and regular joint exercises of the Armed Forces of the two countries," a joint statement by both parties had mentioned.

Previously, India signed a $5 billion deal with Russia in 2018 to purchase S-400 Triumrf air defence missile systems. The supplies of the S-400 surface-to-air missile defence systems began in December.

According to the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, India has been accountable for nearly one-third of all Russian arms export. Between 2016-and 2020, India received 23% of total Russian weapons exports, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a report.

According to CNN, there are also reports that India and Russia signed a deal to manufacture more than 6 lakh Russian AK-203 assault rifles in India. While India has not yet been sanctioned under US CAATSA law, which dissuades US allies from purchasing Russian arms, however, experts have often reiterated that New Delhi's current moves could potentially lead to such a situation in near future.

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