Sunday, March 28, 2010

Russia and India

Reaction from Recent Putin's trip to India

Putin recently made a trip to India and signed a plethora of deals worth $10 billion. The deals include several nuclear power plants and military contracts worth $4 billion. I find it interesting that the Western media's over-reaction to this trip. A common theme seems to be that the good relationship developed with India during the Bush Administration is getting squandered by Obama Administration's policies. Obama's policies were described as ignoring India while favoring engagements with "bad countries" like China and Pakistan. And due to America's neglect, India has ran back to its traditional all-weather friend Russia. And Russia is sick of China copying its weapons and value India far more.

Needless to say, I found much of these articles to be comical. While it is true that India is getting less attention from America with Obama in power, I really don't think it had much to do with these contracts. When Bush signed that landmark nuclear power deal with India, other nuclear power exporters like Russia and France were also excited that they now have an NPT-exception to sell to India. It should be to no one's surprise that India chooses to diversify its nuclear power purchases between US, France and Russia to get the best available technology for the lowest price. That is what China is doing right now with building AP-1000, EPR, Candu and AES-91 at the same time. It seems like India is a huge nuclear energy market, so I don't think American firms like Westinghouse, GE and McDermott would be missing out.

The military agreements that came out from this trip seem to be the new terms for the Gorshkov refitting project, additional Mig-29Ks and more signings to the 5th generation fighter project. All three of these agreements are basically additional agreements to existing projects. Does it really surprise anyone that India wants to conclude this Gorshkov saga and use the same naval fighter on all of its aircraft carriers? These decisions were made in the earlier part of this decade and really do not have anything to do with the current political climate. And with the first flight of T-50, India clearly thinks that this is the best and fastest way for it to get into the 5th generation of fighter jets. There were also talks of India purchasing additional Su-30MKIs from Russia. I think that will also happen due to the delays in the MRCA and LCA projects. Russia has always been a reliable supplier to India. There really is no reason for India to cut them out just because Western countries are join in now. America has already scored several major contracts like the P-8I and C-130J orders. It is still in competition for utility helicopters, Project 17A, missile defense, various army RFPs and the MRCA project. So while the Russians continue to sell well to India, America is in no way getting left out.

I also do not see Russia selling certain weapon systems to India as an indication that its relationship with China is decreasing. It is true that Russia is fairly pissed out at China for declining purchases and allegedly copying several of its export (although as I have stated in the past, it really is nowhere as bad as the Russians claim). However, that is due to China's much improved military industrial complex and increased military cooperation with Ukraine and Belarus (at the expense of Russia) than weapons not being available. Over the last few years, military exports have become a much smaller part of the bilateral relationship. Otherwise, the leaders of the two nations would not be meeting so often.

In conclusion, Putin's trip to India is reaffirms the decade long friendship of the two countries. The military cooperation between the two countries will continue to flourish. However, people should not see this as a rebut to the US/India relationship. India is already a power to be reckoned with and will become a superpower at sometime this century. Its relationship with Russia cannot possibly go back to the cold war period, when it was a little brother to one of the two super powers. Its relationship with US will only expand as it becomes more and more involved in the world economy. And sadly, its relationship with China will become only more complex as their growing economic ties are overshadowed by the mutual distrust. Things will never go back to the way they were in the cold war days.


timurelame said...

Which projects are the PLA working on with Belarus and the Ukraine these days?

Feng said...

With Ukraine, Zubr, gas turbines, klimov engines, large transport and carrier related stuff.
With Belarus, a lot of radar, electronics subsystems and maintenance/upgrades.

timurelame said...

Which weapon systems the Russians would like to sell to the PLA but the PLA is not interested?

Conversely, what are some of the weapons the PLA wants but the Russians are not willing to sell?

The Indians are touting their Russo-Indian Yakhont missiles a lot recently. DO you think the PLA would like to get this weapon as well?

Jiang said...

Russia wants to sell:
1. the Mig-31, a high speed(March 3) interceptor, but China does not want it.

2. More destoryer, and kilo subs, alone with the more advanced Amur class sub. But China does not want them neither, to be honest here. China has better destoryer than Russia right now, the 052C is PLAN's best destoryer and more advanced version are coming out. PLAN also have Yuan class sub, which is at least as good as the latest Kilo, which is why China does not want more kilo.

3. Russia also want to sell more S-300PMU2, but China has plenty of S-300PMU2, and its own HQ-9A is just as good in many ways. Thus, China is no longer in hight demand of S-300PMU2.

4. Su-30MKK2 or even Su-30MKK3. SU-30MKK2 is nothing speccial, in fact. J-11B is better than SU-30MKK2 in terms of A2A combat. Su-30MKK3 is the equivlent of SU-30MKI, but still not that advanced even compare to J-11B. Beside, China already have J-10A/B. So there is no way China is going to buy more Su-30 from Russia.

5. SU-35BM. Again, this is another Russian attempt to rib off China, SU-35BM, is more advanced than SU-30MKI and it is the best Russian fighter at the time, however, it will get its ass kicked if it face F-22 or even F-35. So it will not provide China any additonal fire power nor capability. Again, there is no way China is goind to buy it.

6. Su-33. The current Su-33 is old and crapy. It still use the old 1980's radar, its avonics is totally outdated and it can not even fire R-77. Of course, Russia can upgrade this fihter, but it require China to pay for the upgrade and currently Russian is only willing to upgrade Su-33 to Su-30MKK2's standard, which is stll CRAPY compare to Rafale-M or F-18E/F. Again China aint gonna buy it.

China wants:

1. Tu-160 boomer, but Russia is not willing to sell it to any one.

2. S-400. However, S-400 is stll not completely ready yet, and Russians might do some price hikes before they sell it to China.

That is it, there are no other weapons CHina really want from Russia any more. Plus, there are not much Russians can offer.

Howrah said...

The arms trade between China and Russia may have fell dramatically over the last couple years, but the civilian/commercial trade between the 2 countries has risen greatly. There was a reversal in 2009 due to the global economic downturn, but it has been forecasted that there will be a recovery in the China-Russia bilateral trade in 2010. Eventually the volume is expected to reach $56 billion in 2011 or 2012. Eventually the military portion will play only a tiny role(less than 5%) in the overall bilateral trade picture.

Christian Brotherhood said...

I agree with Jiang that there is nothing China want to buy from Russia. There might be some Russian submarine tech related to nuclear Subs that China is interested as well as anti-submarine missiles. Surfact combatants of China's newest destroyers or frigaes are better than Russian Sovient-built inventory currently serving Russian navy. Tu-160 is something Chna lacks. The rumored H-8 bomber might be a fantasy on part of Chnese Internet bloggers.