Indo-Russian Military Technical Cooperation: Implications for Southern Asia
Srivastava, Anupam, World Affairs
The region of Southern Asia has inherited its own share of the flux and countercurrents generated with the end of the cold war.(1) International arms control initiatives have sought to deepen and widen adherence to the norms, outlooks, and interests enshrined in multilateral security regimes that seek to stem or reverse the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These initiatives have engendered greater international consensus but also have brought the core of intractable issues to the fore. Within the national contexts, Russia, as the successor to the Soviet Union, is struggling to come to terms with being a nation-state instead of an empire; to devise mutually acceptable relations with the former Soviet republics; and to establish its centrality within the post-Soviet space. India, whose economic restructuring roughly coincided with the end of the cold war, is searching for a way to facilitate closer integration into the global economic matrix without compromising its legitimate security concerns in the process. And China, consolidating nearly two decades of state-guided economic reforms, is modernizing its armed forces and appears to be on course to occupying a central position in the international community.
It is within this fluid context that I analyze Indo-Russian relations and examine their implications for the balance of forces and emerging strategic equation in Southern Asia. In the first section I examine the national issues within Russia and India that propel them to seek closer bilateral ties. In the following section I discuss the current relations between the two in the security sphere (arms acquisitions, technology transfers, future areas of cooperation, and so forth). In the final section I analyze the implications of expanding Indo-Russian relations for countries in the strategic neighborhood, with particular attention to Pakistan and China.
NATIONAL IMPERATIVES FOSTERING CLOSER BILATERAL COOPERATION
The Russian Case
To Russia devolved the nuclear mantle following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. However, this inheritance has produced a fair share of difficulties as the nation searches within for an acceptable status in the international community and for a way to forge its relations with countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU), the extended neighborhood (Western Europe and central and western Asia), and beyond (particularly the United States). The continued search for its national identity impinges sharply on the Russian strategic calculus in dealing with these other nations. As the national elite seek to situate these interactions within the ebb and flow of Russian history, an assortment of developmental issues emerge that explain the scope of its foreign policy decisions. An eclectic, albeit spare, survey of issue areas illustrates this dynamic.
Russia's inability to impede the eastward expansion of NATO has led to a considerable shrinkage of its sphere of influence within the region. As Russia seeks to reestablish its centrality within the post-Soviet space, it has had to enter into protracted negotiations with countries of the former Soviet Union. For the latter, these negotiations afford the means to harness Russia's (latent) hegemonic aspirations by binding its behavior to an institutionalized framework of relations. For Russia, on the other hand, they provide an avenue to reestablish its salience in the region. Further, Russia has sought to compensate for its shrinking sphere of influence by deepening its strategic relationship with China and India. A series of diplomatic initiatives has transformed its relationship with China from one of "containment" to "overt engagement." With India, it has sought to elevate the traditional close relation with the Soviet Union into a "strategic" one.
In addition, Russia has sought, particularly since 1993-94, to substantially increase its global sale of advanced conventional weapons (ACWs). Restructuring of the defense sector, including privatization of defense industries, has been attempted to generate additional revenue that will both finance further research and development (R&D) and ease the burden on the state of implementing badly needed economic reforms. While this has enabled Russian gross arms sales to increase from $1.5 billion in 1994 to $4.3 billion in 1997-98, the performance of private firms, as compared to the state-run Rosvorouzhenie, has brought into question the wisdom of further decentralization and privatization in the defense sector. Notwithstanding this dilemma, it is clear that arms sales, particularly those embedded with technology transfers, are intended not only to generate revenue but also to serve as an influential policy tool in dealing with the recipient states. It is pertinent to note here that as Russia enters into defense agreements involving technology transfers and joint production of weapons systems (with production sites often located within the recipient country), it augments other countries' capacity to emerge as commercial competitors to Russia in the global arms market. Thus, it is useful to speculate: Is Russian "compulsion" to enter into such agreements actually fostering competition in the process? Are the recipient countries in a position to take advantage of the supplier's dependency syndrome faced by Russia?
In analyzing Russia's evolving relationship with the West, several contentious issues come to the fore. Leaving aside the terms of assistance to Russia's economy, which is on the verge of collapse, a primary impediment remains the inexorable eastward expansion of NATO. Another major hurdle relates to the U.S. emphasis on rejuvenating and expanding its national missile defense (NMD) concept, which seeks to erect an impregnable fortification against strategic missiles. Under the current formulation, often denoted as the "3 + 3" concept, the United States would make a decision in the year 2000 on whether or not to erect the NMD shield over the continental United States. If the decision is made to do so, the NMD is expected to be put into place by 2003.
Although a discussion of the NMD is beyond the scope of this study, several components of the NMD violate the terms of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, as well as the 1974 ABM Protocol.(2) Further, any U.S. attempt to extend this umbrella to its allies (say, in East Asia) under the aegis of the Theater Missile Defenses (TMD), would worsen the strategic force balance for Russia against those states.(3) These and other problems continue to dog Russian integration into the "core" of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This is especially significant because MTCR faces a more fundamental dilemma between whether it is an internal policy coordination regime or a global missile proliferation control regime.(4) The current mandate of MTCR not only limits its scope of action, but also complicates its interaction with member states such as Russia (and aspirants such as Ukraine and Israel).
The above discussion provides the substantive context within which to examine Russia's decision to elevate its relationship with India into one of a "strategic partnership." Given Russian vulnerability to deepening strategic relations with recipient states, the risk is significantly reduced when dealing with "friendly" states (including India, Iran, North Korea, and now, China). Russia's new defense cooperation with India should be pursued under the aegis of military technical cooperation encompassing the political, economic, and security spheres. It seeks to provide the institutional framework for the two countries to significantly deepen and widen their …
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Publication information: Article title: Indo-Russian Military Technical Cooperation: Implications for Southern Asia. Contributors: Srivastava, Anupam - Author. Magazine title: World Affairs. Volume: 161. Issue: 4 Publication date: Spring 1999. Page number: 200. © 1999 Heldref Publications. COPYRIGHT 1999 Gale Group.
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