Ukraine conflict highlights need for self-reliance, says Rajnath Singh

Updated on Apr 28, 2022 08:39 PM IST

Rajnath Singh’s comments on self-reliance came at a time when the complications stemming from the wide-ranging sanctions slapped on Russia by the US and its allies on the back of the war in Ukraine have posed new challenges for the India-Russia defence relationship.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar and other officials at the Naval Commanders' Conference in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI PHOTO.)
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar and other officials at the Naval Commanders' Conference in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI PHOTO.)

New Delhi: Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict highlighted the need for achieving self-reliance in defence even as he lauded the Indian Navy for being at the forefront of the “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” initiative.

“Coming to the prevailing security environment in the world, the ongoing Russia and Ukraine conflict has once again highlighted that being self-reliant without dependencies is a vital necessity,” Singh said addressing the navy’s top brass during the Naval Commanders’ Conference.

Geopolitical dynamics of the Russia-Ukraine war, boosting tri-service synergy and operational readiness of the Indian Navy were among the topics discussed during the four-day conference that concluded on Thursday.

Singh’s comments on self-reliance came at a time when the complications stemming from the wide-ranging sanctions slapped on Russia by the US and its allies on the back of the war in Ukraine have posed new challenges for the India-Russia defence relationship.

“The big lesson from the Russia-Ukraine war is that we have to build indigenous military capabilities and not be dependent on others. This is especially critical for a country like India that faces multiple security challenges,” said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd), director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.

The global backlash against Russia has raised questions about the fate of new projects, spares procurement for existing Russian-origin weapons, maintenance and servicing of legacy equipment and creating an alternative payment system for defence trade with Russia amid the banking sanctions.

“Indian Navy, which has been at the forefront of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, must continue to lead the way and remain a necessary guarantor of India’s maritime trade, security and national prosperity,” the defence minister said. He said the navy had re-invested over 64% of its capital budget into the India economy, in a big boost to indigenisation.

“It is heartening that out of 41 ships and submarines which are on order, 39 are being built in Indian shipyards. While the navy has been at the forefront of indigenisation, it is important for us to leverage on the momentum that we have gained thus far,” Singh added.

The minister said jointness in operations and the establishment of theatre commands was the way ahead. “I am aware that adequate progress has been made towards the study on Maritime Theatre Command,” he added.

India is working on a roadmap for the military’s theaterisation – a long-awaited defence reform -- to best utilise the resources of the three services for future wars and operations. The current theaterisation model to enhance tri-service synergy seeks to set up four integrated commands --- two land-centric theatres, an air defence command and a maritime theatre command.

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