Is the US replacing Russia as Asia’s arms supplier?
Note: This is the first of a number of articles for Siberian Light by Tanya. You can identify who is the author of any particular post by checking the tag line just under the post title.
In late February it was discovered that India and USA have begun consultation at the high level about question of cooperation in the area of ballistic missile defence. According to a statement by Robert Gates, US Secretary of State for Defense, the question was about US participation in the development of an Indian ballistic missile defence system.
“We’re beginning to talk about conducting a joint analysis on what India’s needs would be in the realm of missile defence, and where co-operation might help advance that.”
This is a very important project for Deli, because India is facing threats from neigbouring states� threats, especially from Pakistan, which has nuclear weapon. This expansion of military cooperation between India and USA implies certain consequences for geopolitics.
India�s entering to American influence is one more stage in the development of the so called Big Asia Belt, which includes all the countries from Turkey to Iraq, Afganistan and Pakistan to Indo-China. Russia left this region in 2003 giving up its base in Vietnam. As a result there are only two countries which are free of American military influence in this region � Iran and China.
Cooperation in the area of ballistic missile defence development gives the US an opportunity to include India in the global American anti-missile system. However, taking into account military activity in Caucasus, cooperation between Deli and Washington may lead to Russian concerns that any Southern missile defence system would also be directed at Russia. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact, that Robert Gates visit to India synchronized with preparations for the placement of the American anti-missile system in Czech Republic and Poland. And, at the same time NATO has been holding a summit where a key item on the agenda was whether to include Ukraine and Georgia as NATO members and whether to begin cooperation with these countries in the anti-missile sphere.
Does Russia still sell what countries want to buy?
Russia has been selling military equipment to India for many years. Also it has been negotiating for the last 5 years about the creation of an Indian missile defence system based on the Russia C-400 system.
However, Russia has not proved a reliable supplier, and a few big contracts have been broken. India accuses Russian producers, because they often don�t deliver on time, or ask for more resources. Moreover, India complains that Russian equipment is often of very low quality.
One of the biggest scandals happened 4 years ago. India discovered a lot of defects in the anti-air system �Shtil-1�, which has been installed on 3 destroyers. These system even couldn�t hit the target! As a result, a �Rosoboronexport� � Russia�s ams export agency � were fined $40 million.
Currently there is a conflict between India and �Rosoboronexport� which touches on reconstruction of the aircraft �Admiral Gorshkov�. Accordng to the contract which was signed 4 years ago, reconstruction of the aircraft must be done by 2011. But Russia recently said that expenses for modernization described in the contract were twice under-estimated. That is why Russia has asked to prolong the time of works and asked for more finances. The same thing has happened with other projects. One month ago India rejected to accept submarine �Sinduvijay� which has been reconstructed in Severodvinsk.
A lot of claims have been made against other projects: planes have defects which make them impossible to use, components are supplied with a huge delay and their quality is very low. All this makes India less likely to buy Russian military equipment. Currently India buys weapons in USA and following the recent visit of Robert Gates to India, it was decided to begin cooperation in the sphere of nuclear technologies.
Similar problems complicate relations between Russia and China. China already has given up to buying Russian military equipment. Algeria also refused to accept planes and tanks because their quality doesn�t correspond international norms.
Russian euphoria, which appeared in 2003-2005 with growth of orders for military equipment, resulted in over-estimation of forces and capacities by Russian organizations which were producers of military equipment. They signed more contracts for weapon supply than they could realize.
All this has almost destroyed the image of Russia in the sphere of militaty technologies. And in fact Moscow soon will find out itself sidelined in the market of military equipment, particularly in the Asiatic market.
In my opinion Russia will lose its place in the market, if does not take certain measures to improve of its image among countries currently looking to buy military equipment. In particular, it must ensure that it makes a realistic estimation of its capacities � financial and timings � and ensure that the equipment it supplies is of sufficient quality.