Why India’s expanding military ties with the United States and Russia could put the squeeze on China

Source: Yahoo News

China’s military can expect far less latitude as regional rival India diversifies its military partnerships, analysts said.

India, which has conducted military exercises with powers including the United States and Russia this year, joined China on Tuesday for Hand-in-Hand 2018, which aims to strengthen the nations’ anti-terrorist operations.

The joint drill in Chengdu, Sichuan province, will last 14 days. The exercises with India began in 2013 but were called off last year because of the dispute over Chinese road-building on the Doklam Plateau region of the Himalayas.

The sides, which fought a war in 1962, stood down after eight weeks later as diplomacy prevailed.

Besides its ties with China, India is holding exercises with Russian air and naval forces. The first leg of the biennial Exercise Avia Indra took place in the skies over Lipetsk, Russia in September, and a second started in Jodhpur on December 10 and ends on Friday.

India has also reached out to the United States, and their air forces took part in the Cope 18 exercise, an 11-day drill over West Bengal, which ended on Friday.

Russian war games prepared Chinese troops for battle, PLA says

New Delhi’s expanding military relationships muddied the waters for Beijing and its regional ambitions, Collin Koh, a research fellow from S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said.

“These Indian defence and security engagements with foreign powers are likely to bring Indian forces greater ability to work closely with foreign counterparts … complicating China’s strategic and operational military freedom to manoeuvre, in peacetime especially,” he said.

India’s military-political relations and arms trade with the US have been on a rapid rise in recent years. The US, as part of its foreign policy to counter China’s growing influence in Asia, has notched up arms sales to India worth US$15 billion over the past decade, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Those deals have brought closer strategic ties – India joined the US, Japan and Australia in discussions on freedom of navigation, terrorism and maritime security in Asia at November’s Asean summit in Singapore.

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