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Does India Depend Heavily on Russian Weapons?

Posted May 7th, 2022

Does India Depend Heavily on Russian Weapons?


After the United States, Russia is the second-largest exporter of firearms in the world. According to a study, America’s part in the global arms trade was 37%, while Russia enjoyed the second spot with a record 20% share. 

India is the largest importer of Russian firearms. Between the years 2000 and 2020, more than 65% of the Indian firearm exports came from Russia. During the past two decades, India’s total spending on firearms was $53.85 billion, of which more than $35 billion went to Russia. During the same period, India’s imports from the US amounted to $4.4 billion, and $4.1 billion from Israel. 

Another study by SIPRI quotes some interesting numbers. In the report, it was found that between 2016 and 2020, India was the major recipient of Russian arms, which amounted to 23% of their overall sales. China secured 2nd place with a record 18%. 

Between 2016 and 2020, Russian firearm imports to India plunged by 50%, but still, it managed to remain the single largest exporter of firearms to India. The study also found that the aircraft deals between India and Russia were completed by 2020. However, between 2019 and 2020, India placed orders for more diverse firearms. The recent deals are said to increase Russian firearm exports even greatly by 2027. 

One of the most popular artillery deals between India and China was over the S-400 Triumf system for air defense. This is the most advanced air defense system in the world, and India ordered 5 of these systems, amounting to $5 billion in 2018. The deal is threatened by US sanctions, but the US hasn’t clearly decided anything yet. However, the possibility of these sanctions from the US could jeopardize the strategic and military ties between Russia and India. 

Moreover, the two countries have also signed a deal to manufacture AK 203 rifles in a factory at Amethi. Furthermore, Russia has also pitched the idea of manufacturing six AIP-powered submarines for India. This deal will most probably take place under the P75-1 project, which also includes some other international bidders. However, it is still tentative, as nothing has been decided yet. 

If we go back in time, we will discover that Russia also provided the first submarines used by the Indian military. The first submarine given to India by Russia was a Foxtrot Submarine, which was incorporated into the Indian Arsenal in 1967. At the time, India had 16 conventional diesel-powered submarines, of which eight were given by Russia. 

The US isn’t too happy with the India-Russia business deals, but the US has to deal with great care. It will take some time before we can predict whether or not India will end up with US sanctions. 

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