According to people familiar with the situation, the US is preparing a military aid package for India toen security ties and reduce the country’s reliance on Russian weapons.
According to one source, the package under consideration would include foreign military financing of up to $500 million, making India one of the largest recipients of such aid after Israel and Egypt. When the deal will be announced and what weapons will be included are unknown.
According to a senior US official who did not want to be identified, the effort is part of a larger effort by President Joe Biden’s administration to court India as a long-term security partner, despite India’s reluctance to criticise Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
The administration is working with other countries, including France, to ensure Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has the equipment it requires, according to the official. While India is already diversifying its military platforms away from Russia, the official stated that the US wants to help speed up the process.
The major challenge, according to the official, is supplying India with major platforms such as fighter jets, naval ships, and battle tanks, and the administration is looking for a breakthrough in one of these areas. The proposed financing package would do little to reduce the cost of such systems, which can run into the billions or tens of billions of dollars, but it would be significant.
A request for comment from India’s Foreign Ministry was not immediately returned. A request for comment from the State Department and the US Embassy in New Delhi was not immediately returned.
India is the world’s largest purchaser of Russian weapons, though it has recently reduced its purchases. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms transfers, India has purchased more than $4 billion in military equipment from the US and more than $25 billion from Russia in the last decade.
Modi’s government has avoided criticising Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine due to India’s reliance on Russia for weapons against its neighbours China and Pakistan. As the US, Europe, Australia, and Japan piled economic pressure on each other, India has resisted economic sanctions imposed by the United States, Europe, Australia, and Japan against Russia, opting instead to import discounted Russian oil.
While the US and its allies were initially frustrated with India, they have attempted to court Modi’s government as a key security partner, including in the Indo-Pacific region against China. Modi will attend a summit with Biden in South Korea next week. Leaders from the Quad, a partnership between the United States, India, Japan, and Australia that has been criticised by China, will attend the meeting. Modi has also been invited to attend the Group of Seven leaders’ meeting in Germany next month.