On Tuesday, army command representatives of India and China started another round of talks aimed to discuss the separation of forces in Eastern Ladakh, which had become the epicenter of the two powers' territorial dispute. As NDTV channel informs referring to its sources, the meeting is held at a border checkpoint in Chushul on the Indian side of the control line dividing the two countries.
Official statements claim India is uncomfortable about a war, but hotheads demand revenge. In China, be it noted, the reaction is more restrained. At the same time, the influential Indian Diaspora in the United States and supporters of India's cooperation with Washington in the country itself urge Narendra Modi's government to enter defense agreements with the United States, Japan and Australia instead of relying on Moscow.
At this challenging moment, India turned to Russia for help. If the border situation keeps escalating, New Delhi's need for Russian weapons will increase. Thus, in late June India became known to be going to buy Russian Armata tanks. It should be noted that the contract between the Russian Defense Ministry and Uralvagonzavod involves the delivery of 132 Armata vehicles to India from late 2018 until late 2021, namely the T-14 tank, the T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicle and the T-16 armored recovery vehicle.
As previously reported, New Delhi intends to buy an additional four hundred T-90S tanks from Russia. Besides the Indian side requested that Moscow step up the implementation of a key defense contract with India stipulating the delivery of five S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to that country, as well as activate negotiations on the delivery of 33 MiG-29 and SU-30MKI fighters. The agreement to accelerate military-technical cooperation with the top customer of Russian weapons was the key result of Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh's recent visit to Moscow.
New Delhi's desire to obtain Russian fighters and air defense systems within the shortest possible time is explained by the Indian side's growing need to neutralize threats from China and Pakistan, with their ongoing rapid air force modernization. The Indian military believe Russian weapons will damage the enemy's chances to attain air supremacy in case of conflict.
Experts also believe that after Pakistan acquired American F-16 Block 52 fighters, and China strengthened its air force with a fifth-generation J-20 fighter of its own design, the Indian air force found itself in a difficult situation. In the event of hostilities, India may be forced to use its fighters simultaneously for both defensive and offensive purposes. And this, according to Indian military experts, is a nontrivial task. Therefore, stepped-up supply of air defense systems from Russia would largely solve this problem, New Delhi says.
It's worth noting that the June conflict with China in the Galvan valley disclosed the world's current fragility, especially under a conflict involving two nuclear powers. No country wants to remain defenseless, with India being no exception in this regard. Although the sides have now withdrawn their troops, Indian-Chinese border tensions are far from getting lower. In recent months, previous negotiation experience has shown that any conciliatory statements by the parties often entail escalation. Bearing evidence to the region's tense situation is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent surprise visit to Ladakh, where there has been a clash between border guards of the two countries.
Speaking before the military, he made it clear that New Delhi was not going to give in to Beijing. "Peace does not imply weakness. Today, India is growing and becoming stronger than ever before, and is ready to defend itself," the Indian leader stressed. And Russian weapons helped India become stronger in many ways.
Notably, while the Indian side has imposed a number of unilateral restrictions on trade and economic relations with Beijing, China has so far refrained from counter measures. However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned that "India should not make a strategic miscalculation on China." Beijing will take necessary measures to uphold the rights of Chinese businesses in India, Zhao Lijian said, without specifying the retaliatory steps China might take.
At the same time, China did not obviously like India's hastiness to buy new weapons from Russia. Officially, Beijing comments on this in no way. However, ahead of the Indian Defense Minister Singh's visit to Moscow, a comment appeared in the Russian-language edition of "The People's Daily" newspaper under the headline "Will India test the Russian-Chinese friendship?". In particular, the Chinese Communist Party's official outlet noted the following: "If Russia wants to soften the hearts of both the Chinese and the Indians, the best thing is not to supply weapons to India at delicate moments. The two Asian powers are Russia's close strategic partners."
Indeed, the most serious escalation between India and China over the past decade due to border clashes in the Himalayas puts Moscow in a sticky situation, given that both countries, along with Russia, work hand in glove within BRICS and the SCO, as well as the RIC triangle (Russia, India, China). The situation being what it is, Russia tries not to interfere in the conflict and does not seek to take on the role of a mediator. Moscow seems confident that New Delhi and Beijing will have the wisdom and moderation not to bring the current border standoff into a state of a large-scale military conflict involving the use of nuclear weapons.