The United States is preparing a military aid package for India to deepen security ties and reduce the country’s reliance on Russian weapons, sources familiar with the matter said.
According to one source, the package under consideration would include $ 500 million in foreign military funding, which would make India one of the largest recipients of such aid after Israel and Egypt. It is not clear when the deal will be announced or what weapons will be included.
Despite reluctance to criticize Russia for invading Ukraine, the effort is part of a larger initiative by President Joe Biden’s administration to bring India to justice as a long-term security partner, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Washington wants to see India as a reliable partner across the board, the official added, and the administration is working with other countries, including France, to ensure Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has the necessary equipment. Although India is already diversifying its military platforms away from Russia, the United States wants to help it happen faster, the official said.
The main challenge is how to provide major platforms to India, such as fighter jets, ships and warships, the official said, adding that the administration is looking for a breakthrough in one of these areas. The financing package being discussed will rarely make such systems – which can cost billions or even billions of dollars – more affordable, but it will be a significant symbol of support.
India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. State Department and U.S. embassy officials in New Delhi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
India is the world’s largest buyer of Russian weapons, although it has lately pushed back that relationship. Over the past decade, India has purchased more than $ 4 billion worth of military equipment from the United States and $ 25 billion from Russia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which collects data on arms transfers.
India’s reliance on Russia for arms against neighboring China and Pakistan is a major reason why the Modi government has avoided criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine. As the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan imposed economic sanctions on Russia, India suspended and continued to import concessional Russian oil.
Although the United States and its allies were initially frustrated with India, they have sought to attract the Modi government as a major security partner in the Indo-Pacific region, including against China. Modi is scheduled to attend a summit with Biden in South Korea next week. The meeting will include leaders of the quad, a partnership between the United States, India, Japan and Australia that has criticized China. Modi has also been invited to join a group of seven leaders in Germany next month.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin raised the issue with China during a news conference in April with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister Subramanian Jayashankar.
“We are doing all this because the United States supports India as a leader in the defense industry in the Indo-Pacific region and as a security provider in the region,” Austin said. “And we all understand the challenges we face there. The People’s Republic of China seeks to redesign the region and the international system more broadly to suit its interests.”
Relations between the United States and India have steadily deepened over the past two decades, with the two sides reaching agreements that allow for greater interaction between their military platforms.
Supporting India is a rare issue in bipartisan unity in Washington, and the Biden administration has indicated it is not interested in approving New Delhi’s recent decision to buy S-400 missile defense systems from Russia. Turkey’s purchase of the same system has deeply damaged US relations with NATO allies.
Even then, it remains to be seen how far India will go in receiving US military assistance. Russia has historically supplied most of India’s military hardware, including fighter jets and missiles, as well as almost all of its tanks and helicopters. The Modi government has told the United States that the option of completely distancing itself from Russian arms imports is too expensive, according to people familiar with the situation, who have been told not to speak on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the media.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)