India exports of weapons to Russia is dealing a thrusting blow to Quad Aspirations

Japan-based news outlet Nikkei recently shared its custom clearance data made available by ImportGenius, an American research specialist, Exim Trade Data of India and other sources, examining records on Russia’s imports of parts for weapons such as tanks and missiles.

The Russian NPK KBM, the Russian initials for the Machine-Building Design Bureau, which is tasked with missile production, purchased a total of six components for night-vision sight for ground-to-air missiles for $150,000 from the Indian Ministry of Defense in August and November 2022. All of the parts, which are needed to ensure the missiles can perform at night and in low light, were basically manufactured by the KBM, which exported the same type of parts to India in February 2013.

The report while raising speculations on Russia’s war capability and sustainability also hints at plausible ways whereby other states continue to assist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in one way or the other putting so-called Western ambitions of Ukraine liberation to hang in balance.

Russian defense industry is now significantly constrained due to new economic sanctions, brain drain, component shortages, and work stoppages imposed since the start of the war in Ukraine in 2022. Russian intelligence agencies now spend time and effort on sourcing components, sometimes settling on inferior or defective substitutes. Under these circumstances buybacks of exported equipment make it possible to keep relevance in the war while upgrading older weapons in Russia’s arsenal and send them into battle.

Despite USA’s hegemony being put to test in the Ukraine’s invasion, it has not been able to convince India to significantly decrease its dependence on Russia’s armaments-since totally ending it is not an option-or other kinds of exports from the country. India, rather had maneuvered to move ahead of its long-standing bilateral defense relations with Russia, complicating the regime in its strategic ambitions in Ukraine.

China, by default, becomes a benefactor with QUAD being put to high stakes ostensibly. Quad, otherwise referred to as Quadrilateral Security Dialogue as a grouping of four ‘China problem’ states has been formulated with the very core of sending China on furlough, at least in the Indo-Pacific region. India and Japan’s contiguity as well as acrimonious relations with Chin make them a natural stakeholder in the grouping.

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin met just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and announced their ‘no-limit’ partnership. Just as European Union lead by USA, imposed economic sanctions on Russia and vowed to decrease their energy imports from Russia by two-thirds or $100 billion-although European Union still made $135 billion worth of energy imports from the country in 2022-China hopped in to benefit Russia both politically and economically.

Measured by value, Russia’s pipeline gas exports to China increased two and a half times in 2022, while its Liquefied Natural Gas exports more than doubled. China also increased its volume of Russian coal by 20%. Since China is highly dependent on imported energy products, cheap Russian energy facilities mean supporting its economy and improving China’s competitive position in world markets.

India is also equally benefiting from the war in Ukraine. Russian crude accounted for about 40% of Indian crude oil imports in the month of May, Reuter reports. But this painstakingly high share of Russian imports highly disrupts the Quad’s equation to China’s favor. This is primarily because the more the Russia benefits economically or militarily, the more sustained would be its war standing and hence the more prolonged the invasion in Ukraine.

In other words, it means that not only India is violating International humanitarian laws but also assisting the rise of its otherwise proclaimed adversary, bringing down the very purpose and stature of the structures-in this case Quad e.g.-designed to prevent any such shift (of China being a hegemonic power) from happening.

USA’s buck-passing in this case is failing in the Indo-Pacific specifically it is highly unlikely for India to detach form Russia when more than 45% of its defense imports worth $13 billion come from the latter.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a litmus test for USA lead liberal world order. With China’s ostensible backing, socialism of the two states seems to have joined hands. Russia’s successes also reap gains for socialism, at least in the domains of values and principles.

With International condemnation of Russia and rise of China, European states are increasingly bending towards China as evident from recent trips made by German Chancellor Olaf Schulz and France’s President Emmanuel Macron. Airspace-European aircraft manufacturer- also announce opening an assembly line in China in Macron’s visit to China.

In other terms, the war in Ukraine is reaping gains for China and states in the USA block are assisting the rise of latter to this tune, in one way or the other. QUAD is ultimately going to shatters.

Sana Hamid
Sana Hamid
Author is an IR scholar having experience working with two top notch think tanks, namely IPRI and SDPI. She has numerous articles in her credits. She tweets @sana_hamid_here