Pitching Ukraine against Russia
After having a military logistics sharing deal with the USA only a couple of months back, India preferred to sign an agreement with Ukraine for manufacturing of 500 transport planes as well as the supply of gas turbines for Indian warships at the Defexpo India 2016 held in Goa.
Though the Indian Reliance Defence Ltd of Anil Ambani entered into the agreement with the Ukrainian authorities the officials of the Ministry of Defence had already successfully negotiated the deal. It would be naive to believe that Ukraine's success came as the result of “aggressive” marketing of Ukrainian delegation. They have already agreed to promote joint ventures in aviation and land defence hardware along with cooperation in shipbuilding. This they dared to accomplish being aware of the fact that the Ukrainians do not have a good record of fulfilling their obligation.
The fact of the matter is that the USA has been using all sort of mechanism to portray Russia in poor light. It is an open secret that the US has been encouraging Ukraine to challenge Moscow. A senior Russian minister had observed, “our American colleagues still prefer to push the Ukrainian leadership toward a confrontational path.” The US tried to take advantage of Russia soft attitude towards Ukraine. In fact, the main task for Russia is to take steps to protect its economy.
After the collapse of Soviet Union, Richard Nixon had observed that the United States had won the Cold War, but not peace. Since then, the American Presidents—representing both political parties—have not succeeded accomplishing the task. A closer look at the incidents that took place around the world will make it explicit that the US was never sincere in restoring peace. Peace seems to be out of US reach as threats to American security and prosperity multiplied at all levels.
The latest case has been of Ukraine’s move to isolate Russia from Indian defence market. This incident may appear to be a very small issue. But the fact is that most dangerous are the small disagreements that took place in immediate neighbourhoods. None can deny Ukraine’s right to military trade relations with India, but the manner in which it is being pushed gives rise to apprehensions.
The United States and Europe believe that the best way to prevent Russia’s resumption of its historic imperial mission is to assure the independence of Ukraine. Ukraine entering into an agreement with Ambani ought to be looked into this backdrop. The USA and Europe insist that the West must do whatever is required to stop the Kremlin from establishing direct or indirect control over that country.
Since Vladimir Putin took over in 1999, he has led a recovery of Russia’s sense of itself as a great power. This is much to the dislike of US which has the habit of misreading the nations, especially its adversaries. Obama "enjoys attempting to humiliate Putin" and "repeatedly includes Russia on his list of current scourges alongside the Islamic State and Ebola."
In Ukraine, Putin has drawn two red lines. He will not permit Ukraine to join NATO. He will not allow the rebels to be crushed. This has put the USA in a piquant situation. They do not desire that Ukraine and its people should have any soft corner for Russia. True enough US wants Russia to retaliate and retaliate in a violent way.
Ukraine easily accessible to Russian forces by road and rail, sea and air, and Russia's military just over the border while U.S. military might is a continent away, Russia would prevail in a war and America would face a choice — accept defeat in Ukraine or escalate a war.
India’s Reliance Defence Ltd. and Ukrainian state aircraft manufacturer Antonov agreed on a deal worth Rs 35,000 crore for joint construction of multipurpose transport aircraft for military as well as commercial use. It would be naive to believe that its success came as the result of “aggressive marketing of Ukrainian delegation.” The fact of the matter is that it was prompt from the western forces that clinched the issue in favour of Ukraine.
It is simply not about making 500 planes worth 5.3 billion dollars during 15 years instead they plan to trade in other countries where Russia has a business interest. The location of aircraft production is already defined. It is India's first integrated Aerospace Park at Mihan, Nagpur. This production would take place under the “Make in India” vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
There are other reasons for turning suspect to this deal. How could defence officials or Reliance have a deal with organisations which are deep in corrupt practices and facing probe? It is a well-known fact that the ruling class of Ukraine has been involved in corrupt practices and bribe cases. Even in the countries which have entered into a contract with Ukraine, investigations are going on.
In March 2016 an investigation was started in fraud and corruption case in a contract to purchase and repair 12 MIG 21 for Air Force. According to reports after 9 of them broke down it was detected that they were made of old parts. Ukroboronprom chief adviser Petro Fedoruk said, “We are here to help India get rid of headaches, which it cannot manage on its own.
For almost ten years Russia has fiercely blocked our efforts. We have offered many solutions that can give new life to Soviet-made weapons because we are the original manufacturers of these equipment.”
Apparently this deal appears to be a move to curtail the business moves and gains of Russia, but a deeper look makes it explicit that this is a shrewd move to cut to size Russia in the South East Asia. However, this machination of Ukraine and its western promoters gives to the questions; is Ukraine in a position to serve India’s growing and increasingly complex requirements? And, will they be able to contain Russia in South East Asia region? As a matter of fact currently, they can’t even serve the needs of tiny Croatia.
Ukraine’s defence industry, which has been hit hard by the ongoing civil war in the country, would no doubt like a slice of this pie. But it would be naive to believe that they have such simple agenda. Responding to statements made by the Ukrainian delegation at Defexpo in Goa, Viktor Murakhovsky, member advisory council of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission, said that the words of the Ukrainian delegation are part of “pure fantasy”.
(Views are personal.)