Code 182311
PublishDate: Saturday, March 1, 2014 18:56

From Delhi to Kabul, Via Moscow

India is thinking of fulfilling at least some of Kabul’s wishes in order to maintain its strategic upper hand in Afghanistan, by providing military aid routed through Russia.

India may enlist Russia to provide Afghan government forces with needed weapons.

Debate over the security of Afghanistan after NATO forces pull out later this year is gathering momentum in New Delhi. During one of his trips to India last year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai provided the government with a military wish list, posing a challenge for the Indian leadership as to how to address the request.

One of the many strategies that New Delhi seems to be working on to make sure Afghanistan does not fall back into the hands of Taliban is to provide its government with military aid via Moscow. Even though the Afghan police and other security institutions have received training from their Indian counterparts, New Delhi has been apprehensive about directly providing Kabul with lethal military equipment because it fears they may end up in the wrong hands, which could damage its local reputation as predominantly a provider of developmental aid.

However, India is thinking of fulfilling at least some of Kabul’s wishes in order to maintain its strategic upper hand in Afghanistan, by providing military aid routed through Russia. Under the plan being considered, Moscow will provide Kabul with equipment such as helicopters, mobile bridges, trucks and possibly ammunition and certain artillery, while India foots the bill. This would not be the first suggestion that Moscow send its own military hardware to Afghanistan on behalf of a third party. Last year the U.S. was set to pay $1 billion for new Russian Mi-17 helicopters to be delivered to Afghanistan. 

Using Russia to provide much needed military assistance to Kabul seems to be one of the best options available to the Indian government at present. It means that no “Made in India” weapons will surface on the ground in Afghanistan. Russia is India’s largest weapons provider, making the transaction easier to orchestrate.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) also have mostly Russian weaponry in their inventories. Many of their soldiers have had previous military experience with Russian weapons; hence, providing military aid via Russia makes operational sense due to familiarity of equipment. 
(Diplomat)

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