Why the United States can not be India's best friend

05.03.2019

The aggravation of the Indo-Pakistani conflict again raised the question of whose side the United States is with. Washington has already voiced plans to make India friends, but it is bound by close arms contracts with Russia. What are the chances of America becoming a true friend for India?

The world today is multi-polar, and the main confirmation of this is the endless attempts of the US to maneuver between different centers of power, to seek benefits from alliances and complicate the lives of potential adversaries. The aggravation of the longstanding conflict between India and Pakistan led the world community to pay attention to this region. The fears are connected with the nuclear status of both conflicting countries.

However, how does this conflict look through the prism of relationships between other centers of power? Russia, China and the United States have their own interests in the region. Pakistan is a longtime buyer of American weapons and at the same time an ally of China. India, on the other hand, is buying weapons from Russia, but in recent years it has increased arms purchases from the United States.

Washington meanwhile declares its intention to move closer to India and finally confuse the situation. Moreover, it turns out that New Delhi is not against trying. Why does the United States need such a rapprochement?

India has problems

On the new problems of India, or rather, the Indian Army wrote the newspaper The New York Times. It indicates that the Indian army is very poorly armed and cannot compete on equal terms with the small but heavily armed Pakistani army.

The argument is as follows: the Indian pilot was shot down by an obsolete MiG-21 fighter, shot down by a Pakistani pilot flying a more modern F-16.

According to the newspaper, if an intensive war begins tomorrow, according to government estimates, India will only be able to supply ammunition to its troops for 10 days. And 68% of military equipment is so old that it is officially considered "vintage".

This problem is exacerbated by another important factor. India’s military budget in 2018 was about $ 45 billion. The largest part of these funds was spent on the salaries of 1.2 million military personnel and the payment of military benefits. India could spend only $ 14 billion on armaments. Therefore, the second problem of the Indian army should be considered bloated military states, the maintenance of which is expensive.

The third factor is population growth. The publication writes that, according to the Washington Heritage Foundation, by 2024, India will come out on top in terms of population, overtaking China. This will create problems with employment in a country where the army is almost the main supplier of jobs. The fight against unemployment is one of the points of the program of the head of India, Narendra Modi. In general, all this means that India may have to expand the number of military and equipment of the armed forces, which means that we need new contracts.

Is the USA a great friend for India?

In January 2019, the Raisina Dialogue international forum was held in New Delhi, which was attended by delegations from the United States, Japan, Australia, India, Russia and China, as well as representatives from NATO countries. Washington and its allies in this forum made every effort to get close to the Indian delegation. The contiguity point was quickly found - China. In fact, the United States began to play on the feelings of India, which regards the Middle Kingdom as a threat to its shipping.

Representatives of the Ministry of Defense of India at this forum said that China is trying to dominate the Indian Ocean, and Delhi can not oppose anything to this. NATO representatives have expressed their willingness to help. And at the same time introduce democratic approaches. In a word, a conglomerate of countries emerged in this forum in opposition to China, and India, in fact, became part of it.

For 10 years, India has increased the purchase of weapons from the United States from zero to $ 15 billion, and this is considered a success in Washington. At the same time, the policy of rapprochement between the USA and India has a problem, and its name is Donald Trump.

On March 5, it became known that the US President intends to cancel the preferential treatment for trade with India and Turkey. According to Trump, India has not given Washington guarantees that American companies will receive "equal and reasonable" access to the Indian market. The abolition of these benefits can dramatically affect the export potential of India, for which the US market is the main one: about 15% of all exports go to America.

The factor of Trump's protectionist policy can be safely considered harmful for the desire of the Pentagon and the weapons lobby to get closer to India in order to sell its weapons. Modi has the right to demand the restoration of preferential treatment as a guarantee that he will buy this or that weapon from Washington, and not from Moscow. On the other hand, Trump could force Modi to open up the Indian market in exchange for a lucrative arms contract. So far, apart from the political motive of counteracting the “growing threat of China”, countries have no common ground for great friendship.

Who is a true friend?

In order to answer this question, you need to look at the arms contracts of the United States and Russia with India. Moscow and Delhi began to cooperate in the military-technical sphere since the 1960s. According to Rosoboronexport, the Indian army is currently 70% equipped with Soviet or Russian weapons. As of 2019, Rosoboronexport’s order book in India was about $ 10 billion. India remains the leader in the import of weapons from Russia.

India is the main importer of Russian weapons. And a lot of contracts are still being negotiated. For example, on the Armata tanks, promising T-50 fighters (PAK-FA). Ka-226T, 48 Mi-17V-5 helicopters and Su-35 fighters.

From this point of view, the United States will not be able to replace Russia as its main partner. This is not to mention the fact that Russian weapons, as a rule, are cheaper than their American counterparts and often exceed their characteristics.

Politically, Trump's attacks on India also do not allow Washington to impose its friendship on New Delhi. Therefore, no matter how the New York Times calls for urgently making friends with India and starting to drive weapons there, and no matter how much they would like it in the Pentagon, this is being hindered by strong Russian-Indian ties that have been forming for decades.