India conducted military drills with the US and Russia this year and joined China for Hand-in-Hand exercise, which aims to bolster the nations’ anti-terrorist operations. If India is holding collaborative defence drill with all three powers i.e. Russia, China and the US, then who is India planning to battle?
The joint drill between India and China in Chengdu, Sichuan province, will last 14 days. The exercises with India began in 2013 but were called off last year because of the dispute over Chinese road-building on the Doklam Plateau region of the Himalayas.
Besides its ties with China, India is holding exercises with Russian defence forces. The first leg of the biennial Exercise Avia Indra took place in Lipetsk, Russia, in September and the second will take place in Jodhpur from Wednesday until Saturday, while a week of naval exercises is expected to end on Sunday.
India has also reached out to the United States, and their air forces are taking part in the Cope 18 exercise, an 11-day drill over West Bengal, which also ends on Sunday.
“These Indian defence operations with foreign powers are likely to bring Indian troops with greater ability to work closely with foreign counterparts … complicating China’s strategic and operational military freedom to manoeuvre,” experts stated.
India’s military-political relations and arms trade with the US have been on a rapid rise in recent years. The US, as part of its foreign policy to counter China’s growing influence in Asia, has notched up arms sales to India worth US$15 billion over the past decade, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Those deals have brought closer strategic ties – India joined the US, Japan and Australia in discussions on freedom of navigation, terrorism and maritime security in Asia at November’s Asean summit in Singapore.
The meeting was widely viewed as a resurgence of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, an informal annual gathering that ran for three years from 2007 that focused on China’s growing economic and military influence in Asia.
“While India has sought to reset political ties with China, many Indian policymakers and experts think Beijing is working to undermine Indian authority in a perceived sphere of influence,” experts stated,
India could provide Russia with a reliable friend other than China, and India’s evolving partnership with the US in the Indo-Pacific would bring scope for cooperation between the two forces. India’s military ties with Russia go back to the USSR era as the country bought weapons, ranging from aircraft to artillery, from 1950s, according to SIPRI. At Cope 18, India’s Russian-built Sukhois flew with American F15s.
India has courted both Russia and the US for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group – 48 countries that trade in nuclear materials and technology. China has stridently opposed India’s bid, mainly on the grounds that New Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
India is again adopting the Non-Alignment Policy where instead of two powers i.e. USA and USSR, New Delhi is balancing its foreign relations with three powers now i.e. the USA, Russia and China.