According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, France has displaced US as India’s second largest arms supplier while half of China's arms exports went to Pakistan

New Delhi: Russia continues to be the largest arms supplier of India, but its share in New Delhi’s total arms imports has come down to 45 percent during the period 2018-2022 from 64 percent earlier, according to the latest data on international transfers of major arms by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

According to the SIPRI data, which was released Monday, India continues to be the world’s largest arms importer and the largest recipient of Russian arms. The report also noted that the demand for arms in India is on a rise due to the ongoing tensions with China and Pakistan.

"India’s tensions with Pakistan and China largely drive its demand for arms imports. With an 11 per cent share of total global arms imports, India was the world’s biggest importer of major arms in 2018–22, a position it has held for the period 1993–2022,” said the report titled 'Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2022'.

The report also said imports of weaponry by India from Russia, France, the US and others have slowed down by 11 per cent in 2018-22 compared to 2013-2017. This is mainly because of the government's ‘Atmanirbhar’ or self-reliance mission in defence manufacturing, slow and complex arms procurement process and efforts to diversify its arms suppliers.

The SIPRI data also showed that while Russia continues to be topmost arms seller to India, its share has gone down owing to strong competition from other suppliers like France and the US, increased arms production under the indigenous route and due to the ongoing Ukraine war.

The five largest arms importers in 2018–22 were India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia and China. Together, these five countries accounted for 36 per cent of the world’s arms imports, said SIPRI.

Siemon T. Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme, said: “It is likely that the invasion of Ukraine will further limit Russia’s arms exports. This is because Russia will prioritize supplying its armed forces and demand from other states will remain low due to trade sanctions on Russia and increasing pressure from the USA and its allies not to buy Russian arms.”

Frances Displaces US As Second-Largest Arms Supplier To India

France has replaced the US as India's second-largest arms supplier due to the import of 62 combat aircraft and four submarines. India’s import of weaponry from France increased by 489 per cent between 2013-17 and 2018-22, the SIPRI data noted.

“France is gaining a bigger share of the global arms market as Russian arms exports decline, as seen in India, for example … This seems likely to continue, as by the end of 2022, France had far more outstanding orders for arms exports than Russia,” said Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.

During the period 2018-22, US, Russia, France, China and Germany emerged as the top five arms exporters to the world.

"US and French arms exports rose between 2013–17 and 2018–22, while Russian, Chinese and German arms exports fell,” said SIPRI.

Half of Chinese Arms Exports Went To Pakistan

According to SIPRI’s research, China accounted for 5.2 per cent of total global arms exports in 2018–22. But Beijing’s arms exports decreased by 23 percent between 2013–17 and 2018–22.

“The vast majority of Chinese arms exports (80 per cent) went to states in Asia and Oceania. China delivered major arms to 46 states in 2018–22, but over half of its arms exports (54 per cent) went to just one state—Pakistan,” the report said.

Arms imports by Pakistan increased by 14 per cent between 2013–17 and 2018–22 and accounted for 3.7 per cent of the total. China supplied over three quarters (77 per cent) of Pakistan’s arms imports in 2018–22, the report showed.

It also noted that China is increasingly becoming “less reliant” on Russian imports owing to the ramping up of domestic production in that country of advanced major arms.

Ukraine Is Now World’s Third Largest Arms Importer

The SIPRI report also noted that Ukraine, which imported a handful of arms between 1991 to 2021-end, turned out to be the world’s third largest arms importer due to the war, which began in February 2022.

“From 1991 until the end of 2021, Ukraine imported a few major arms. As a result of military aid from the USA and many European states following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine became the 3rd biggest importer of major arms during 2022 (after Qatar and India) and the 14th biggest for 2018–22. Ukraine accounted for 2.0 per cent of global arms imports in the five-year period,” it said.

The report added: “Due to concerns about how the supply of combat aircraft and long-range missiles could further escalate the war in Ukraine, NATO states declined Ukraine’s requests for them in 2022. At the same time, they supplied such arms to other states involved in conflict, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia,” said Wezeman.