'India is Not a Country You Can Pressure,' New Delhi Says Amid 'Deep' Talks With US on Russia Ties
© AP Photo / Manish SwarupAn Indian navy sailor walks past the national flag emblem during Independence Day celebrations at the historic 17th century Red Fort in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021
© AP Photo / Manish Swarup
The US State Department on Tuesday said that it is in "deep conversations" with India over its reliance on Russian defense equipment and energy. New Delhi has refused join Western sanctions against Russia, which is India's biggest arms supplier.
India is not a country one can pressure, Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said during a Thursday media briefing in New Delhi, as Washington has urged New Delhi to reduce its reliance on Russian arms and energy.
"I don't think India is a country you pressure and hope to get results. I think India's position stems from our own beliefs and our interests in what we need to do," Bagchi added.
The spokesperson insisted that the Indian government hasn't felt pressure from the US over its defense and energy ties with Russia: "No issue of pressure at any point."
On Tuesday, a US State Department official claimed that New Delhi was "coming to understand" that Russia was "no longer a reliable weapons supplier."
"India is heavily, heavily dependent on Russia, and that's something that they did to themselves over some 40 years: first their military and then their energy dependence," the official argued.
Around 70 percent of India's arms are of Russian origin. Over the past four years, the bilateral defense cooperation got a boost, after Delhi signed several agreements with Russia to purchase air-defense missile systems, warships, and assault rifles. During the border stand-off with China in 2020, India received all the equipment and spare parts, as well as the S-400 air defense systems as scheduled.
"So, we have been in deep conversation with India about the fact that we want to help them have options to diversify here," the US State Department official added.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed "global food security, energy security, and availability of fertilizers in the context of the challenges emanating from the current geopolitical situation" on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand earlier this month.
The two leaders appreciated the "sustained momentum in bilateral ties, including contacts at various levels."
On September 15, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra vowed to continue oil purchases from Russia, underlining that "India is not a member of the G7 and will not impose a price cap on Russian energy supplies.
While addressing the Eastern Economic Forum on September 7, PM Modi sought deep cooperation in the field of energy, including the supply of Russian coking coal.