India and Russia have had a long-standing corporation since the Cold War era. The two countries have maintained close ties over the years, with Russia being one of India’s key defense suppliers. The Indian economy has been benefitting from cheaper Russian oil because of the sanctions. Russia is also India’s largest oil supplier and significantly contributed to the country’s energy security. India has tried to maintain its non-aligned status but now the tides have shifted India is playing a double game now, its government is using its stocks of several thousand MILAN anti-tank missile systems against Russian troops in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. The Indian-made French-designed MILAN-2T, man-portable (Infantry) second-generation ATGM have been supplied to Ukrainian Military.
Missiles that reached Ukraine are being used on the battlefield against India’s supposed ally. Ukraine is using massive amounts of artillery ammunition and anti-tank missile systems (ATGM’s) in the war, underscoring the continuous demand for such weapons. As a result, Ukraine is looking for ways to replenish its ammo supplies. India has been a key part of supplying these arms to Ukraine in its war against Russia. Moreover, India and Ukraine agreed to optimize military ties, particularly in the defense cooperation, by signing four agreements worth $70 mn for weapons, upgrades for Kyiv with Aero India.
India’s brazen duplicity against Russia is evident from it bolstering Ukrainian armed forces. Anti-tank weaponry traveled through India, which was given permission by India for shipment of hundreds of MILAN ATGMs to Ukraine. The shipment is carried out through a network of front companies. Any inscriptions in Hindi or serial numbers, and other information that can be used to track the supply chain are removed from ammunition and weapons before shipment. In addition, any information that can be used to identify the shipment’s origin is concealed.
The MILAN anti-tank guided missile has been in service with the Indian Army since 1981. They are manufactured by the Indian company Bharat Dynamics Ltd. under a license to arm infantry units and install them on combat vehicles.
The MILAN anti-tank guided missile has been in service with the Indian Army since 1981. They are manufactured by the Indian company Bharat Dynamics Ltd. under a license to arm infantry units and install them on combat vehicles. Indian manufactured MILAN ATGMs are operational, these weapons were recently manufactured units and not old stock sent to Ukraine. MILAN-2T is a man-portable (Infantry) second-generation ATGM, to destroy Tanks fitted with Explosive Reactive Armour, moving and stationary targets up to 1.5 Km. Ukraine is looking for more of such defense purchases from India. These MILAN-2T ATGM is a guided anti-tank missile with dual warheads.
India is not impartial in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and has been involved in supplying weapons made in India, for their end use in Ukraine. Delhi is apparently utilizing third-country-based defense suppliers and contractors to route these defense sales to Ukraine. India is now out to make money off the Russia-Ukraine war by supplying much-needed weapons to Ukraine. The Ukrainian military is massively using these Indian-made infantry grade weapons against Russian troops. India’s hypocrisy is palpable from it sending missiles to Ukraine in secret to maintain its economic interests with Russia.
The Ukrainian military is massively using these Indian-made infantry grade weapons against Russian troops. India’s hypocrisy is palpable from it sending missiles to Ukraine in secret to maintain its economic interests with Russia.
India of late has been pursuing policies that are at odds with its relationship with Russia. India has also been strengthening its ties with the United States in recent years, which indicates its potential shift in its foreign policy alignment. One of the major factors contributing to this distancing is India’s growing engagement with the United States and other Western countries. In particular, India has been seeking closer economic and strategic ties with the US. India has made an effort to limit its reliance on weapons of Russian origin in order to strengthen its relations with the US. India’s transactional approach towards Russia and rubbing off of the US has now become blatant. India has made a clear where it stands. India’s new economic relations only underscore the reversal of fortunes between India and Russia. Additionally, India has been engaging with other countries such as Japan and Australia to form a “Quad” alliance, which is seen as a counterbalance to China’s growing influence in the region. Russia and China, on the other hand, have been strengthening their own strategic partnership in recent years. Another factor is Russia’s own geopolitical priorities, which have shifted towards closer ties with China in recent years. This has led to Russia prioritizing its relationship with China over its traditional partnership with India, particularly as China’s influence in the region continues to grow.
It is worth noting that India is maintaining a close relationship with Ukraine to counter Russia, it is a sign of India’s duplicity, and a reflection of India’s duplicitous tactics in its relations with Russia. India is in US camp now against Russia and it is evident from its missiles shipments to Ukraine, with both Indo-US partnership expanding the two countries have signed a number of defense deals and are increasing cooperation. This is clearly a manifestation of India’s Janus faced approach towards Russia, and has led India to shift its foreign policy alignment away from Russia.
Hence, India is not transparent and consistent in its actions and communication with its international partners and is losing its credibility to maintain trust in its relations with Russia and more so in the global arena. Hence India is playing against its erstwhile ally and all these potential signs direct towards India’s distancing from Russia. There have been further instances of India supplying arms to Ukraine in the past, including during the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Asma Khan Durrani is an Islamabad-based expert in Strategic Affairs. She is a student of Defence and Strategic Studies. She has done M.Phil. from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. She has also been published internationally. She tweets @AsmaKhan_47 Mailed @ firstname.lastname@example.org