US wants India to cut defence buying from Russia; Congressman says 'gruesomely...'

Published on Apr 06, 2022 05:53 AM IST

US Congressman Joe Wilson asked what US can possibly do so that Indian leaders reject Putin and align with the US in the defence sector.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said US is working with India to make New Delhi understand that its dependence on Russian military equipment is not in the best interest of India. (AFP)
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said US is working with India to make New Delhi understand that its dependence on Russian military equipment is not in the best interest of India. (AFP)
By | Written by Poulomi Ghosh

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday that it expects India to scale down its dependence on Russian military equipment, going forward. “We continue to work with them (India) to ensure that they understand that it’s not in their — we believe that — it’s not in their best interest to continue to invest in Russian equipment,” Austin told the members of the House Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on the annual defence budget.

“And our requirement going forward is that they downscale the types of equipment that they’re investing in and look to invest more in the types of things that will make us continue to be compatible,” Austin said.

The comments came as the defence secretary was responding to a question of Congressman Joe Wilson, who criticised India's position on Russia amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. “Gruesomely, our treasured ally India, the world’s largest democracy, is choosing to align itself with the Kremlin by choosing Russian weapons systems over American and allied options,” Wilson said.

“What weapons platforms could we offer through the foreign military sales program that would incentivise rush — Indian leaders to reject Putin and align with its natural allies of democracy?” he asked.

“I look forward to you continuing to work with the great people of India. And what a great ally they can be if we eliminate some of the restrictions on sales,” Wilson said.

US's concern over India's dependence on Russian military equipment comes and New Delhi has made it clear that it will continue to buy cheap Russian oil. White House Press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said the United States believes that it's not in India's interest to increase Russian energy imports and other commodities.

The Indian military uses several Russian-made weapons, including tanks, artillery guns and missile systems. New Delhi has also signed deals to purchase Russia's S-400 air defence system, which has been under threat of US sanctions under Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

(With agency inputs)

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