With the Ukraine conflict on for seven months now, India has said it has faced no difficulties in terms of servicing and spare parts supply of military equipment that it received from Russia. It also asserted that New Delhi exercises a choice which it believes is in its national interest when it is offered weapons.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar made these remarks during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington after holding bilateral talks.
"I don't think in recent months we have faced any particular problems in terms of servicing and spare parts supply of (military) equipment that we have got in the past from Russia," the External Affairs minister said.
He was asked about India's plans for military hardware and equipment given the sanctions that the US and others are putting on Russian industry and whether India will look at more purchases of American or Israeli military equipment.
"Where we get our military equipment and platforms from, that's not an issue, honestly, which is a new issue or an issue which has particularly changed because of geopolitical tensions," Jaishankar said.
India, he noted, looks at possibilities across the world. "We look at the quality of technology, the quality of capability, the terms on which that particular equipment is offered, and we exercise a choice which we believe is in our national interest," he said.
In the last 15 years, for example, India has actually procured a lot from the United States, he said. "If you maybe consider, for example, aircraft – the C-17, the C-130, the P-8, or the Apache helicopter or the Chinooks or the Howitzers, the M777 Howitzers – we have done so from France when we recently bought their Rafale aircraft. We have done so from Israel," the minister noted. “So, we have a tradition of multi-sourcing and for us, how to get the optimal deal from a competitive situation is really what this is all about," Jaishankar said.
Russia has been a major supplier of military hardware to India. The two countries have been holding discussions on what kind of payment mechanisms can work between them in view of the Western sanctions on Moscow.
Earlier this month, Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov said his country has delivered its most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system S-400 to India on time despite pressure from Washington and the US-led West's sanctions. The S-400 is known as Russia's most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system. The 'Triumf' interceptor-based missile system can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 kms. Russia had started delivery of the first regiment of the missile in December last year.
The missile system has already been deployed in such a way that it can cover parts of the border with China in the northern sector as well as the frontier with Pakistan.
In October 2018, India had signed a five billion dollar deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, notwithstanding warning from the then Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may trigger US sanctions under CAATSA.