A $ 500 million military aid package aims to “free” India from Russia
The administration of US President Joe Biden wants to persuade India to reduce its defense cooperation with Russia by offering a military aid package to New Delhi, which could be worth up to $ 500 million, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.
Russia has long been a major supplier of arms to India, especially more sophisticated weapons systems, such as warplanes and attack submarines. At least since the 2000s, it has been India’s top arms seller, with the exception of last year, when France took the lead. The United States, Israel and the United Kingdom are also among the major suppliers.
India has a policy of reducing its dependence on foreign supplies through the development of its internal defense sector and has diversified its arms imports in recent years, but Moscow has remained its main partner, meeting almost half of India’s demand in the last five years.
According to Bloomberg, Washington hopes the aid will help bring India away from Russia and closer to the United States.
The report comes ahead of next week’s Quad Leaders Summit – a four-party Indo-Pacific security measure – which includes the United States, Japan and Australia. Washington sees this as a key element in its opposition to China, another Asian power with which India has a long-standing feud.
Like other non-Western nations, India refused to join the US-led operation to punish Russia for its military action against Ukraine. Instead of sacrificing the economic interests of the way most European countries impose sanctions on Moscow, New Delhi is buying more Russian crude at significantly discounted prices.
While Western nations have expressed dissatisfaction with Russia’s policy of not supporting it, they have stopped targeting India in retaliation. The situation was similar before the conflict in Ukraine.
Washington has not imposed sanctions on India for buying advanced Russian S-400 air defense systems. This is in stark contrast to its treatment of China and even NATO ally Turkey, both of which have been banned from buying the same weapons.
Bloomberg sources did not say when the aid deal would be announced and what weapons India would receive from the United States. According to the report, American weapons as well as French weapons could be part of it. If the package is the sum of the formulas proposed by the source, then India would become the largest recipient of US military aid after Ukraine, Israel and Egypt.
Asked by the news outlet, neither American nor Indian officials commented on the talks.
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