Indo-Russia Round Table Discussions on Security Challenges in South Asia and Procurement of Military Hardware

Indo-Russia Round Table Discussions on Security Challenges in South Asia and Procurement of Military Hardware

Indo-Russia Round Table Discussions on Security Challenges in South Asia
and Procurement of Military Hardware

 

1.         A Round Table Discussion (RTD) on Security Challenges in South Asia was held at the USI on 24 Feb 2014 with the Russian delegation from the Russian Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES). The Russian delegation was led by Mr. Mikhail L Titarenko, Director, IFES and the session was chaired by Lt Gen P K Singh PVSM, AVSM (Retd), Director, USI. The following papers were presented and discussed:-

(a)  A paper on “Russian Perspective: Security Challenges in South Asia including the Indian Ocean and the Way Forward” was presented by Lt Gen (Dr) Anatoly Klimenko, (Retd).

(b)  Another paper on   “Russia and India: Strategic Relations and Procurement of Military Hardware” was presented by Lt Gen Vinay Shankar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd).

2.         Lt Gen Anatoly Klimenko highlighted that rapid consolidation of international terrorism, that might use nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, is a potential threat in South Asia. Russia and South Asia share the same geopolitical space and, therefore, the given region takes an important place in the Russian national security considerations. The existing and potential hotbeds of local armed conflicts in the vicinity of the state borders of Russia and the CIS countries, is a cause for concern. Efforts are on to settle regional and local conflicts through political and diplomatic measures. An important vector of Russia’s security policy is to follow international law and peace-keeping activities. Further, he stated, that the National Security Strategy needs to guarantee such foreign-economy ties for Russian manufacturers that would realize Russian interests, and contribute to the higher competitiveness of Russian products leading to more efficient production and economic growth.

3.         On relations between India and Russia, he stated that India is a strategic partner of Russia but at the same time, Russia pursues dialogue with Pakistan as Islamabad’s engagement, in joint constructive activities would contribute to regional stability, especially in settling the situation in Afghanistan.  Also if the situation in Afghanistan stabilizes, Pakistan would enable the Central Asian SCO member countries to use the roads to the Indian Ocean coast and Russia, too, could build links to such networks. He stated that Indian Ocean is important because of its military-strategic location and economic and political features. It has important energy-supply and trade routes connecting Europe and America with Southeast Asia and East Africa. In future the Indian Ocean will play an important role in the world economy. The US naval forces maintain military superiority in the Asia-Pacific Region as well as in the Indian Ocean. Such superiority is likely to be sustained until the mid-21st century.[i]   China’s 55 to 60% of national demand for energy resources is satisfied through foreign supplies. Beijing is concerned that in case of aggravation of situation in the Taiwan Strait, the US might block the Malacca Strait and sea lanes, from South China Sea to South-West Asia. China is trying to woo the countries of the region by developing trade and economic ties, offering beneficial loans, supplying inexpensive weapons and technologies, personnel and specialists’ training and supply of qualified labour to countries of the region (Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri-Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, etc.). China wants to resolve the “Malacca Dilemma”, by establishing control over the South China Sea and by strengthening its positions in the Bay of Bengal. China has emphasized the peaceful nature of its “oceanic” activities, by pointing to its economic rationale, and their peaceful task of safeguarding the Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOC). In Russian view the security interests, in the Indian Ocean would be better served if the Chinese engage in the regional security structures, along with other countries like India, Japan etc.  A few other areas of concern are drug trafficking, piracy and poaching operations. Navies of the US, India, China and other countries should cooperate by organizing patrolling of sea lanes of communication.

4.         Lt Gen Vinay Shankar, in his paper, highlighted the cordial historical relations between the two nations since the time of India’s first Prime Minister Pt. Nehru. He further elaborated on the development of Indo-Russian defence cooperation in various fields post Sino-Indian conflict of 1962. Russia was India’s major partner in the defence programme. While the Soviet collapse slowed down the arms trade and India diversified its defence procurements. With the resurgence, Russia has again become the largest trading partner of India. Nuclear power plants, BrahMos missile system, fifth generation fighter aircraft, nuclear submarines are few areas where the cooperation is moving satisfactorily and the scope for development is immense in other fields also.  BRICS, RIC has further contributed to strengthen the relationship. India’s demand for hydrocarbons is going to increase and India and Russia can work together in this field.

5.         During discussion on Afghanistan it was stated that the regional countries like Iran, Central Asian Republics, India and Russia need to be more proactive in finding solution. Pakistan is an important neighbour of Afghanistan but it is also involved in precipitating the problem in Afghanistan. If Pakistanis think that Afghanistan is their backyard and they can continue with their violent activities, they need to change their approach. India at track II diplomatic engagements has tried to engage Pakistan, but has not achieved the desired results. Russia could persuade Pakistan to work with regional countries to find a solution, which will promote stability of this region. It was also brought out that the US-Iran rapprochement can create alternate routes and thus dilute Pakistan’s position. Further it was suggested that, Russia could consider supplying military hardware to Afghan security forces.

6.         Discussions on current imbroglio in Ukraine also took place. The Russian delegates described the historical and geopolitical importance of Ukraine to Russia. They highlighted that Americans in the past interfered in the internal affairs of Ukraine. They supported the mercenaries through financial aid and weapons. Ukraine is demographically divided into two parts; the Western Ukraine from the World War I time had a Polish and Nazi influence which the Soviets were not able to eradicate, as a result the situation gradually worsened and now the Western part of Ukraine is prejudiced against the Russian. The politicians are inciting people to join the European Union (EU). The Eastern part of Ukraine has substantial number of Russians. The stark divide between the two factions, is jeopardizing economy, and adversely effecting harmony.

7.         During the summing up, the Director USI flashed another subject for future discussions – the “Nuclear Issue”. He brought out that gradual increase in the nuclear inventory of China is changing the strategic balance and the time has come when instead of bilateral negotiations on global nuclear issues, US and Russia should involve China and India also in discussions and adopt a multi-lateral approach to the nuclear issues which should also include proliferation concerns.

 

         Compiled by Gp Capt S Tewari, VM (Retd) and Dr.Roshan Khaniejo

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