Indo-Russia S-400 Deal and Its Implications for Pakistan

India wants to become a dominant power in the region on the basis of its military and economic strength. While Pakistan did not want to live under the threats of its neighbor. Pakistan made every efforts in the response of India’s action to alter the strategic balance. After the Sino-Indo war in 1962, India started to modernize its armed forces and this thing compelled Pakistan to do same.

India is spending billions of dollars in the procurement of arms from Russia, US, France and Israel and become a  largest arms importers in the world. This extra ordinary spending on purchasing arms has created a threat full environment in the region and created insecurity among the regional countries especially for Pakistan.

Russia is a prime supplier of arms to India from decades. According to the “Stockholm International Peace Research Institution, between 2012 to 2016, Russian arms imports accounted for 68% of India’s total arms imports”. In 2016 at BRICS summit, an agreement was finalized between Russia and India for the purchase of five S-400 missile systems. Initially, Indian government  has paid 800 million dollar to Russia, as an advance payment and it was expected that India will receive the first batch  of S-400 missile system in late 2021 but it did not received yet. As per agreement the final deliveries of all units will reach to India by April 2023.

 S-400 is a mobile platform that can launch eight missiles at one go with the speed faster than a fighter jet. Its radar can detect a plane as far as 600 km away and its missiles can also engage the target at a range of 400 km onwards.

The S-400 would virtually cover most of Pakistan, which mean Pakistani fighters jets would become more vulnerable against any Indian aggression. India plan is to install three batteries of S-400 at its western border with Pakistan and two batteries on its eastern border with China. The main purposes of installing  S-400 is to protect India’s  important installations like nuclear plants, communication hubs and important cities. After inking S-400 deal with Russia the ‘old friend’ narrative has acquired a new look between the two countries.

 S-400 is considered one of the most advanced  air defense systems in the world. It has the capability to protect  almost all sorts of aerial attacks, including drones, missiles, rockets and even fighter jets. The system, intended to act as a shield over a particular area, which is a long-range surface-to-air missile system. S-400 can engage intruding aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. Each unit have two batteries, which have a command-and-control system, a surveillance radar, and engagement radar and four lunch trucks. Furthermore, it can track 80 targets simultaneously and can be made operational within five minutes. 

 By acquiring S-400 air defense system, it signals that India is fully determined to create its  hegemony in the region especially over Pakistan. This Indian hegemonic designs is not only cause of concern for countries, but will alter the strategic environment of South Asia, which is already under the shadow of India’s aggressive and warmongering attitude. It will create sense of insecurity among other south Asian states. On the other side the purchase of S-400 will provoke India to become more aggressor towards Pakistan and  to carryout Balakot type air strikes against Pakistan.

Though Indo-Russia S-400 deal become major cause of concern in Indo-US relations, with  US threatening sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). But its seems, US will not impose sanction on India over its purchase of S-400 system because of its relations with India and through India, US want to contain China. US also wants India to get its Patriot missile system but S-400 is not only cheaper than Patriot but advanced in technology.

The security situation of South Asia is always characterized by the rivalry between India and Pakistan. The rise of one state means the fall of other states.  The Indo-Russia S-400 deal will have implications for Pakistan, because it can decline Pakistan’s deterrence capability against India. It will also create imbalance between the two countries. By getting such type of technology it can minimize the nuclear deterrence by Pakistan against India. Now India would be able to increase threats against Pakistan. To counter India’s impending threat  Pakistan would have to take countermeasures to maintain power asymmetry  in the region. This thing will compel Pakistan to look other alternative  options like supersonic and hypersonic missiles to counter S-400 capabilities because its unable to intercept such kind of missiles. 

The S-400 will further  provoke an arms race between the two countries. It can also make India to let a conflict be escalate on the assumption that it have  the ability to counter any sort of aerial attack from Pakistan. Such circumstances would spark big conflict which leads to extraordinary implications for the region. The over edge and irrational behavior of India can spark major conflict between the two nuclear-arm countries, which will not only disastrous for  the region but for the whole world.

A recent missile fire, from India  into Pakistani area of  Mian Channu on 9, March 2022, was a unprecedented incident, which has no example in the nuclear history. Although it cause no causalities, except building damage.

 India and the world always try to propagate that Pakistan’s nuclear program is not in safe hands. Now world should look whose nuclear program is not in the safe hands after, India’s missile fire into Pakistan.  It’s a missile not a rubber bullet which was fired mistakenly into other country. It seems that India’s nuclear program is not in the hands of  professionals. It seems, it is in the hands of terrorists. Now world should praise Pakistan for showing calm, patience and responsibility after India’s unlawful act of firing missile into Pakistan. The world should also look India’s aggressive attitude before getting Russian S-400 missile system and what will its behavior after installing S-400 missile system, it is a big question? Pakistan has always shown serious concerns regarding India’s mind set, hostile and aggressive attitude.  The incident now alarm the bells over the safety of Indian missile system. India should coordinate with Pakistan regarding the incident and should launch joint investigation offered by Pakistan. There has no such example of missile, being fired like this.

Indian officials called it a “technical malfunction” that was “deeply regrettable”. “Sushant Singh” is a Indian writer who wrote that “Imagine if a missile had fallen on Indian territory and the Pakistani side had claimed “accidental firing”, would the Indian political leadership and jingoistic media have accepted that explanation”?

Now, International community especially UN Nuclear Watch Dog must take the notice of this missile fire on a serious note and should investigate the matter to avoid such incidents in future. It was Pakistan who handled the situation very well at this crucial time and safe the two nuclear arms states from a nuclear flash point.

Mansoor Ahmed
Mansoor Ahmed
The writer is Islamabad freelancer and Researcher