West did not supply weapons to India for decades, says Jaishankar while defending Russian imports
The Western countries chose a military dictatorship in the region as their preferred partner, the minister said, in remarks apparently aimed at Pakistan.
Union Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Monday defended the use of Russian arms by Indian forces, saying Western countries did not supply weapons to New Delhi for decades and instead chose a military dictatorship in the region as their preferred partner, PTI reported.
Jaishankar was apparently referring to Pakistan, which was a close ally of the United States-led West during the Cold War.
At a a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong in Canberra, Jaishankar said that India and Russia have a long-standing relationship that has “certainly served” New Delhi’s interests well.
“We have a substantial inventory of Soviet and Russian-origin weapons,” the minister added. “And that inventory actually grew for a variety of reasons. You know, the merits of the weapons systems themselves, but also because for multiple decades, Western countries did not supply weapons to India, and in fact, saw a military dictatorship next to us as the preferred partner.”
Pakistan’s military establishment has ruled over the country for more than half of its 75-year history as an independent nation. The country’s military still relies heavily on the US, but the relationship has strained in recent years, especially during the war in Afghanistan.
Jaishankar on Monday made the comments while responding to a question on whether India should reduce its reliance on Russian weapons systems and reassess its relationship with the country during the war in Ukraine.
He said that in international politics, “we make judgments which are reflective of our future interests and current situation”.
The foreign minister also reiterated that India is against the conflict in Ukraine. “We believe it does not serve the interest of anybody, the participants, or the international community,” he told reporters. “As the country of the global south, we have been seeing first hand how much it has impacted low-income countries. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Samarkand, this is not an era of war.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is now in its eighth month. Moscow claims its a special military operation that was necessary to prevent Kyiv from being used as a platform for Western aggression. But, Kyiv and its Western allies have dismissed these arguments as baseless pretext for a war.
As it faces sanctions from the West over its invasion of Ukraine, Russia is trying to forge closer ties with India and China. Both countries now account for over half of all Russia’s seaborne oil exports as Western countries buy less, according to the BBC.
Last month, Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov had said that Moscow delivered its most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system S-400 to India on time despite the sanctions from Western countries.