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India took steps to modernise its navy and scale back dependence on Russian arms: U.S. intel official

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Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kruse, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. File
| Photo Credit: AP

“India in 2023 showcased itself as a global leader as it demonstrated a greater willingness to counter China’s activity throughout the Indo-Pacific region and took steps to modernise its military and reduce its dependency on Russian origin-equipment,” the highest U.S. intelligence official has instructed Congress.

The remarks by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kruse, Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, got here throughout a Congressional listening to on defence intelligence countering China. “During the past year, India has showcased itself as a global leader by hosting the Group of 20 economic summit and demonstrated a greater willingness to counter PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) activity throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” Mr. Kruse instructed members of the House Armed Services Committee — the subcommittee on intelligence and particular operations.

India, he mentioned, has superior partnerships within the Indo-Pacific with regional South China Sea claimants, such because the Philippines, by coaching and defence gross sales and deepening cooperation with the U.S., Australia, France and Japan.

China claims many of the South China Sea as its personal, whereas The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over the maritime space.

“In 2023, India took steps to modernise its military to compete with China and reduce its dependency on Russian-origin equipment. India conducted sea trials for its first domestically produced aircraft carrier and also has negotiated with several Western countries on the transfer of key defence technologies,” Mr. Kruse mentioned.

“India has maintained its neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia remains India’s most substantial defence partner and New Delhi continues to acquire weapons from Moscow, such as the S-400 surface-to-air missile system, despite New Delhi’s desire to diversify its defence acquisition partnerships,” Mr. Kruse mentioned.

“In 2024, New Delhi probably will focus on securing its national Parliamentary elections, maintaining economic growth, and building on its ‘Make in India’ initiative as part of its military modernisation effort, which is aimed at countering Beijing,” he instructed the lawmakers.

Bilateral relations between India and China stay tense following the 2020 Galwan conflict that killed 20 Indian troopers and at the least 5 PLA (People’s Liberation Army) troopers.

“In October 2023, senior Indian and PLA officers failed to resolve disputes about the two remaining standoff locations in eastern Ladakh during their twentieth round of talks. Both sides maintain approximately 50,000-60,000 troops in the area and continue to improve their military infrastructure near the border,” Mr. Kruse instructed the law-makers.

On Pakistan, Mr. Kruse instructed law-makers that it has sought worldwide help, together with from the UN Security Council, to resolve its dispute with India about Kashmir. Separately, Islamabad and New Delhi have maintained an uneasy ceasefire alongside the shared Line of Control since February 2021.

“Pakistan has sustained its nuclear modernisation efforts despite its economic turmoil. Terrorist violence against Pakistani security forces and civilians also rose last year,” Mr. Kruse mentioned.

In 2023, militants killed roughly 400 safety forces, a nine-year excessive, and Pakistani safety forces have performed nearly every day counterterrorism operations in the course of the previous yr.

“Pakistan’s contentious relationship with India continues to drive its defence policy. However, cross-border violence between the countries has decreased since their February 2021 recommitment to a ceasefire,” he mentioned.

“Islamabad is modernising its nuclear arsenal and improving the security of its nuclear materials and nuclear C2. In October, Pakistan successfully tested its Ababeel medium-range ballistic missile,” he mentioned.

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