Washington: – Ashton Carter, Former US Secretary of Defence, said, ‘India has traditionally had a non-aligned foreign policy. Russia is an important country supplying weapons and defence equipment to India. India is still dependent on Russia for its weapon supplies. It should be remembered that no one can have an unrealistic expectation that India will buy new weapons by discarding all these weapons.’ This seems to be a slap delivered by former Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter to the Biden administration, who is trying to pressurise India by threatening to impose sanctions for purchasing the S-400 air defence system from Russia.
Ashton Carter was addressing the meeting of the US Chamber of Commerce. Ashton Carter is currently serving as the Director of the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Carter claimed that this matter was unavoidable while speaking about India-US defence cooperation. India-US cooperation in the military and security sector is an unavoidable future reality.
Carter said that he had had discussions with Indian Prime Minister Modi while as the US Secretary of Defence. Carter said that he had given the information of the Indians working in the technology sector in the United States. It is a belief that there are better prospects for Indians in a country like the United States, given their command over English. Indirectly referring to this, Carter clarified that the India-US cooperation is not limited to the English language.
The cooperation between the two countries will progress much beyond that. Carter claimed that there are many similarities between the two countries other than democracy. He clarified that it is mandatory to take note of these things while speaking about India-US cooperation.
It can never be forgotten that non-alignment is an integral part of Indian foreign policy. At the same time, Russia is a traditional ally for defence equipment supplies for India. Even today, India is using Russian weapons and defence equipment on a large scale and depends on Russia for the same. Carter pointed out that one cannot have an unrealistic expectation that India will scrap all these weapons and systems and buy new ones. It seems that the former US secretary of defence is rebuking the Biden administration through this.
The Biden administration has agreed to give the highest priority to cooperation with India. However, the Biden administration is threatening India with sanctions for purchasing the S-400 air defence system from Russia. At the same time, India is buying Rafale fighter jets from France. This also has not gone down well with the United States. The United States expects India to purchase fighter jets from US companies. The Indian defence marketplace is worth billions of dollars, and the US demand is for the largest share of the market. The United States is indicating that if this US demand is not fulfilled, India will have to face the consequences.
India has purchased heavy military transport aircraft and helicopters, attack helicopters and Romeo helicopters, effective in anti-submarine warfare, from the United States. India has also purchased Howitzer field guns and advanced rifles from the United States. This has made the United States an important defence supplier for India. But the US expectations are much higher. It is not possible for India to fulfil these expectations. At the same time, India cannot take decisions that may hurt a traditional ally, like Russia.
Former Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter, is reminding the Biden administration of the same thing. If the Biden administration becomes aggressive on this front, it will undoubtedly affect relations with India. Therefore, Carter is advising the Biden administration to adopt a cautious stand regarding India and understand the Indian problems. Before this, even the leaders from the opposition have lambasted the Biden administration over relations with India.