Some media reports recently suggested that the era of Moscow-supplied weapons to India had ended

Two international relations pundits have rubbished the recent reports in the Indian media which stated that Russia's position as a major supplier of military equipment to India had ended.

The above-mentioned claims came in the backdrop of the Indian Navy retiring its last batch of Ilyushin IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft and the Indian Air Force (IAF) phasing out one of the squadrons of its MiG-21 Bison warplanes earlier this month.

Against this backdrop, Dr. Dattesh Parulekar, who is an Assistant Professor at the Goa University's School of International and Area Studies, stated that these reports speculating the progressive demise of Russian defence hardware transfers were hyperbole.

No Deliberate Policy to Supplant Russian Armaments Or Military Platforms

"Notwithstanding the instances noted, these decommissioning are still instances of case-to-case basis situations, and do not portend a spectre of any deliberate policy of supplanting Russian armaments and systems, per se," Dr. Parulekar told Sputnik India on Thursday.

He pointed out that while there was no gainsaying that New Delhi was gradually diversifying its defence hardware sourcing, such widely arrayed forays at broad-based military procurement, were not aimed at eroding the salience of Russian arms and defence platforms sales.

Rather, he noted, these initiatives were aimed at engendering processes for robust and resilient defence production indigenization towards potential self-reliance in security preparedness.

According to Parulekar, it must be admitted that Russia-India defence equations were now marked by a newfound pragmatic evaluation at either end, impacted by the collaterals emanating from the Ukraine conflict.

New Delhi Cannot Forsake Moscow As A Defence Partner

"However, New Delhi could hardly forsake Russia, as a defence partner, given the inveterate traditions in acquisitions, the marked Russian orientations of its defence ecosystems, and the canny imperative to leverage Russian equities, in extracting the best terms from Western interlocutors, be it the US or sovereign European players, for that matter on tech transfers and assembly-lines," the academic underlined.

Moreover, he opined that India's strategic objective of risk mitigation through diversification, is optimally accomplished, by maintaining the angularities in multiple defence relationships.

On the other hand, IAF veteran Vijainder K Thakur stressed that defence procurement is closely tied to foreign policy which in turn is guided by the best interests of the citizens of a country.

No Hint of the So-Called 'End of An Era'

In his opinion, it is not determined by the narrative of a certain section of the press and hence, he believes that there is no change in India's foreign policy that would even hint at the so-called "end of the era."

Thakur highlighted that the MiG-21 was retired from Russian Air Force (RuAF) service several decades back.

He explained that the Indian Navy was retiring the IL-38 because it procured P-8I from the US.

Civilian Nuclear Power A Factor In Burgeoning India-US Military Ties

"The fact is that India procured non-lethal defence equipment like the P-8I, Apache AH-64, C-17, C-130 under pressure from the US, as quid-pro-quo for the US ending India's isolation in the use of civil nuclear power," Thakur said in a conversation with Sputnik India.

In July 2005, former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and then U.S. President George W. Bush announced that the US in principle would end India's nuclear isolation and support civil nuclear cooperation with the country.

The former IAF pilot observed that the retirement of MiG-21 and IL-38 represents the routine retirement of obsolete military hardware. It needs a very convoluted mind to project it as the end of the era of the India-Russia weapons trade.

India-Russia Defense Cooperation Remains Solid

India has just signed a contract with Russia to locally produce Igla-S MANPADS/SHORADS, import kits from Russia for the local manufacture of 12 more Su-30MKI, Thakur mentioned.

"Why didn't India buy an additional squadron of Rafale fighters from France instead of importing more defence equipment from Russia?" he asked.

The IAF is retiring its fleet of Avro-748 transport aircraft and in a few years will retire its Jaguar fleet. Would that represent the end of the era of India-UK defence collaboration?", Thakur quipped.

The defense analyst also drew attention to the fact that India's trade with Russia was expanding at a breathtaking pace. Besides, India was importing a lot of Russian oil and plans were afoot to export Indian-made ships and manufactured goods to Russia.

New Delhi's Import of Russian Weapons To Be Dictated by Indian Needs

"India's import of weapons from Russia would be dictated by Indian needs and foreign policy dictates. Russian weapon systems represent a cost-effective counter to the threats faced by India. They come without attached strings. Western weapons are expensive and sometimes more effective, but they invariably come with strings attached," Thakur asserted.

He commented that if India wanted to dominate the region as a US vassal, it would need to procure expensive Western weapons. But if India wanted to simply deter aggression and grow economically, Russian weapons would serve its needs better.

The government of the day is the best judge of what works for India. Postures change with time and circumstances, as they should and are not dictated by sections of the media, Thakur summed up.