Ukraine war throws wrench in massive Russian arms deal after they miss delivery, India says
India has relied on Russian military equipment for decades but has recently moved to try and limit that partnership, instead turning to the United States, France and Israel.
Russia is unable to meet its commitments to deliver vital defense supplies to India, with Indian Air Force claiming that the war in Ukraine has depleted Moscow's military supplies.
An IAF statement, which was presented before a parliamentary committee and posted on its website earlier this week, said that a planned "major delivery" of Russian equipment would not take place.
Officials blamed the ongoing conflict in Ukraine for the shortage – an excuse they used to scrap a planned procurement of Russian helicopters last year, instead turning to local production to try and fill the gap.
The report did not mention specifics of the delivery, India has received a range of weapons and vehicles from Russia in recent years, such an air defense system in 2018 and spare fighter jets, including the MiG-29 and Su-30MKI. Russia handed off spare units to India in some cases.
Reuters noted that the biggest "ongoing delivery" from Russia to India concerned the S-400 Triumf air defense system units, which India bought for a sum of $5.4 billion. India received three of those systems, with two more required to complete the contract.
The U.S. Treasury claimed in February that sanctions and export controls put in place as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have "degraded Russia’s ability to replace more than 9,000 pieces of military equipment lost since the start of the war."
The sanctions also allegedly "forced production shutdowns at key defense facilities and caused shortages of essential components for tanks and aircraft production."
"Russia is also running out of munitions and has lost as much as 50 percent of its tanks," the department wrote in a statement posted online. "At the same time, our coalition has provided Ukraine with state-of-the-art military equipment, while Russia has been forced to turn to mothballed Soviet-era weapons."
The shortage will have a significant impact on India’s plans to continue modernizing its forces: Officials said they had to slash projected spending for the next financial year by a third compared to the previous one.
A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in New Delhi told Reuters that it didn’t "have information which may confirm the stated." Rosoboronexport, the Russian government’s weapons export branch, did not say anything on the matter.
Russia accounted for more than 40% of India’s defense imports in 2017, which equated to roughly $8.5 billion of the total $18.3 billion spent that year, according to The Defense Post.
India initially remained quiet on Russia's actions in Ukraine, even abstaining from the vote to condemn Russia's actions, but shortly after condemned Russia's actions in Bucha and called for an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine.
India has tried to cut its reliance on Russia for the past two decades, weening off a relationship that started in 1947.
Instead, India has looked to partners in the United States, France and Israel to provide the needed equipment.
Reuters contributed to this report.