The manner in which the US propped up Ukraine, forced Russia to invade it and is now only pumping arms and mercenaries into Ukraine has blown the aura of support that the US had built around it
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
During a recent hearing on the ‘National Security Challenges’ held by the US House Armed Services Committee, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, Ely Ratner told lawmakers that in the last several years, whenever the Indian government faced "aggression from China on the Line of Actual Control," the US rapidly provided "certain capabilities and intelligence," and that in the context of trying to improve trust and the nature of defence relationship with India. He also said that the US will come to India’s defence in case of a crisis.
Calling the security-related cooperation with India as a "defining moment" between the two countries, Ratner said that the US-India defence relationship was one with incredible momentum. He said US-India will hold most senior level engagement in early April(2+2 Dialogue) that will discuss a number of activities that are unprecedented, adding there were challenges with the relationship with India but those challenges were manageable and the “two sides were moving forward very rapidly in deepening partnership."
US provided no warning to India about the Chinese invasion in May-June 2020 despite having an intelligence sharing agreement with India
Question by few members of the House Armed Services Committee on Ukraine like abstaining from voting at the UNSC and India’s “dubious loyalty”(sic), Ratner maintained that the US has been engaged with the Indian leadership about the issue. He said, "We recognise that India has a complicated relationship with Russia - that majority of their weapons they have are from the Russians", adding that India now was in a multi-year process of diversifying its arms purchases away from Russia. He further said that the US should also support India in increasing indigenisation of its defence industry.
Answering another question, Ratner maintained that India was an absolutely essential partner in America’s Indo-Pacific strategy, adding, "We are looking for them to purchase more US systems, more European systems and develop their own indigenous capabilities as well. And the trends are moving in the right direction."
Concurrently, Admiral John Aquilino, Commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on ‘Military Posture in the Indo-Pacific Region', said the military-to-military relationship between the US and India is probably at its highest point and that the US will continue to support India with equipment and other things it needs along the Line of Actual Control with China, asserting that Washington and New Delhi share a "tremendous partnership" and continue to partner and operate together throughout the region. He further said that the Malabar exercise with Japan, Australia, the United States, and India is critical; increased mini lateral and multilateral engagements with the Indians, and ultimately continue to sell them equipment so we can be more interoperable and more effective together in the military sphere.
The demonstrated credibility of the US has hit rock bottom with the ongoing Ukraine conflict
The common feature in the statements of Ratner and Aquilino is selling more western weapon systems to India. Joint exercises to improve interoperability are all very well but the question is against which common enemy or threat? The manner in which the US propped up Ukraine, forced Russia to invade it and is now only pumping arms and mercenaries into Ukraine has blown the aura of support that the US had built around it. With the cover of ambiguity in warfare gone, it is more than evident that US will never join open conflict with Russia or China. But should there be conflict between the US and China, be it on the high seas, the US will expect India to join the conflict even if the Line of Actual Control between India and China is not active.
As regards the assistance to India in face of the 2020 Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh, no doubt the US and Europe are happily selling arms and systems to India but the US provided no warning to India about the Chinese invasion in May-June 2020 despite having an intelligence sharing agreement with India. Moreover, if selling weapons to India is the main and perhaps the only focus, would the US want an India-China war? The answer is an emphatic yes, because then the US will be able to sell more weapon systems and make more money.
Bottom line is that the US assistance to India facing aggression would be limited to selling arms and perhaps some intelligence
It is notable that the US has never helped any country which faced aggression, not even Pakistan (1971) and Ukraine (2022). It is always you fight on – we will support you from the sidelines. In the case of India, following US-EU actions are noteworthy:
Witness some Senators questioning Ratner on India’s “loyalty”; India certainly is not America’s pooch like Britain or comedian Zelensky heading Ukraine. But, certainly the demonstrated credibility of the US has hit rock bottom with the ongoing Ukraine conflict.
The bottom line is that the US assistance to India facing aggression would be limited to selling arms and perhaps some intelligence when it suits US national interests.