Is Russia buying back missile parts from India for use against Ukraine?

India accounts for 35% of Russia's overseas arms shipments.
Is Russia buying back missile parts from India for use against Ukraine?
Photo: SPUTNIK (Reuters)
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Russia may be buying back military components it exported to India so as to use them in its war against Ukraine.

Moscow may be re-importing parts specifically for tanks and missiles to improve its existing weapons, Nikkei Asia reported yesterday (June 5).

“Russia may have reimported the parts for repairs, but there were no records of the items being sent back to India as of the end of March this year,” it said.

Nikkei inferred this from an analysis of customs clearance data on defence-related shipments to Russia by a US-based research firm ImportGenius, along with data from Exim Trade Data of India and other sources.

The US, European countries (pdf) and Japan have banned supplies of goods to Russia, wary about their use for military purposes, especially since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia now hopes for cooperation from countries with which it has had longstanding military ties, like India whose arms import from Russia increased five-fold in 2022-2023 to $5.08 million.

What military equipment is Russia looking for?

Russia’s machine-building design bureau purchased six components for night-vision sight for its missiles from the Indian defense ministry in August and November 2022, Nikkei reported. Moscow exported them to India in 2013, it said.

These parts, manufactured by Russia, were valued at $150,000 and reportedly ensure that the missiles can perform at night and in low light.

Meanwhile, India is cutting its dependence on Russia for military supplies in an effort to become self-reliant. While it is pushing for indigenous production, New Delhi has also begun exporting equipment to more than 75 countries.

In the last fiscal year that ended in March 2023, India’s defence exports hit an all-time high of $1.9 billion, although that formed only a minuscule share of global arms exports. India remains the world’s largest arms importer.