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India Rises

Written By: - Date published: 10:21 am, May 1st, 2022 - 10 comments
Categories: China, defence, International, Russia, war - Tags:

Why is India such a player now?

I am hearing that a new Defence White Paper is being written for NZDF, the last one being in 2016 and a fair amount has changed to our sovereign risk exposure since then.

We’re used perhaps to thinking that Australia is just some big lunk sucking up to the United States and spending too much Defence budget on largely non-existent threats.

A lot changes in a few months. In March last year an arrangement called The Quad was formed to group Australia, India, Japan and the United States into an informal defence support arrangement.

This compact said useful things, such as:

We will continue to prioritize the role of international law in the maritime domain, particularly as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and facilitate collaboration, including in maritime security, to meet challenges to the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas.”

But India is now in full play and knows it.

On Thursday Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did a two-day visit to New Delhi. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrived on the same day. On Wednesday the United States deputy secretary National Security Adviser Daleep Singh arrived. Last week Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison did a virtual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi did  a brief stopover. Two weeks ago Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also met with Modi. Also the foreign minister of Greece, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. So much attention it’s time to get out the fan.

India has consistently refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in four separate United Nations resolutions.

The Quad’s other players haven’t much choice but to look past India’s moral slipperiness at the UN; they know it’s the only other military power able to push back against Chinese aggression into southern Asia without too much US assistance.

An immediate practical example of this is India’s active financial assistance to Sri Lanka to both stop it collapsing and also displace the influence of China within Sri Lanka.

The price of India’s support as an ally for anyone is going up, and it’s not yet clear what their full objectives are in upping this price.

Russia has been India’s trusted arms supplier for decades, and is now a supplier of discounted crude oil to New Delhi as Moscow recoils from sanctions and actively punishes European countries for daring to support Ukraine, and so has to find other customers.

India is one of the very few countries when asked which side are you on, can answer: India’s of course. New Zealand will never have that luxury, nor Australia. Analysts are taking stabs at the positioning of all of this. Perhaps they’d rather keep India in play with Russia, than China essentially keeping Russia from cracking up.

India is at the centre of the Indian Ocean and a vital long border with China. It’s a massive market for the world and for us, and potentially stronger growth prospects than China currently has.

India now represents a major problem/opportunity for Australia and hence for us.

It’s just one more risk element we’re likely to see reflected in Defence Paper 2022, and it’s one to watch.

10 comments on “India Rises ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    At least part of India's problem with Ukraine is that their military is heavily dependent on Russia for equipment and parts. And for the moment turning that off an pivoting to more reliable sources elsewhere is not an easy or quick fix option.

    Especially when they must continue to actively contain both Pakistan and China on their borders.

    But otherwise a very timely post and highly pertinent to NZ. Maybe the Solomon Is debacle will prompt some serious Wellington thought around the QUAD and AUKUS.

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    I share your anticipation.

    In mid-March, India allowed its refiners to buy Russian oil, despite Western efforts to curtail international purchases of it. And, at the same time, New Delhi and Moscow began to discuss how to avoid U.S. dollars as the transaction medium (i.e., “de-dollarization”) in their trade, which would enable Russia to more easily skirt the West’s economic sanctions

    India’s deep reliance on Russia for military equipment likely had a significant influence on New Delhi’s tilt toward Moscow. About 97 percent of India’s main battle tanks, 100 percent of its armored fighting vehicles, 67 percent of its submarines, 68 percent of the anti-ship cruise missiles aboard its guided-missile destroyers and frigates, and 97 percent of its fighter aircraft were acquired from Russia (or its predecessor, the Soviet Union). Even India’s most successful domestically manufactured anti-ship cruise missile, the BrahMos, was co-developed with Russia.


    It all depends on Xi though:

    Should India find itself in a conflict with China, full-throated Western support could prove critical, especially if Russia fails to rise to the occasion.

  3. Corey Humm 3

    Agree. India is a global player and should be, I'm a bit more understanding of India's need for Russian energy because of India's gargantuan population and poverty levels means gargantuan energy needs.

    India is absolutely more reliable a partner than the Chinese Communist party and its cheerleaders. India would be a far more acceptable major trading partner to China to most kiwis, who'd welcome a free trade agreement that gets us off our Chinese export addiction.

    However, Australia's military budgets are not excessive, they have a massive territory they need to defend and police. They also have to pick up the slack by from NZ who for generations have chronically underfunded defense, we have an enormous maritime border that we can't defend, our fisheries and our territories will soon be at risk. It's all too easy for kiwi's to criticize country's that take national security and security of their realms seriously just because we think defense is a joke.

    Nz should increase its military and defense budgets to 2.5-3.7% over the next ten years.

    Labour should do everything in it's power to get Ron Mark from Nzf in it's ranks and get him back as defence minister, the best minister of defense NZ has had for decades.

    I'm not talking about offensive, I'm talking about emergency, defensive, peace keeping and natural disaster capabilities for ourselves and our pacific region which is an earthquake and natural disaster probe hotzone and with climate change disasters only going to get worse we need to double our defense and emergency capabilities.

    • Patricia Bremner 3.1

      Read up on what Kiri and local marae have done with their containers of equipment for disaster planning.

    • Blazer 3.2

      Ron Mark was on Q&A….he wants NZ to send the SAS to the Ukraine!sad

      He also strongly hinted he had talent that Nania Mahuta should recognise, for him to to take up an overseas appointment.

  4. peter sim 4

    We are a third world nation living in luxury. It will end in tears.

  5. roblogic 5

    I encourage everyone to read the first chapter of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Ministry for the Future" (free sample on kindle) — a stunning description of surviving a killer heatwave in India.

    The book predicts that after suffering too many such heatwaves, India becomes a global leader in Green initiatives and eventually changes the world. Seems a bit optimistic.

    The current (2022) record-breaking heatwave will cause more crop failures, especially wheat, already scarce due to the war in Ukraine. And China is hoarding the stuff. And the USA is already experiencing a drought.


    • That is horrendously hot by any measure. According to my brother-in-law, who is from Pakistan, cricket is a winter sport in that part of the world because people would die if they tried playing in the summer.

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