Indian officials have signed a deal to fund heavy weapons purchases for Afghanistan during a high-level trip to Moscow last week – raising concerns that British aid money is indirectly assisting Russian arms-sales due to the UK’s £280m aid package to India.
The deal will see Russian-built equipment funded by New Delhi flood into the country as NATO downsizes its operation there.
The Indian Express reports that the deal has been a long time coming, and that the first weapons order has already been placed. The Indian Cabinet only agreed to help the Afghan National Army (ANA) as long as India committed no troops or small arms.
While there were concerns that small arms may find their way into the hands of militants fighting India in Kashmir, they also acknowledged that sending troops would outrage Pakistan and lead to protests.
There has been fierce debate in Britain about the actions of India when it comes to defence. The country spends billions on projects such as a Nuclear submarine programme and even a mission to Mars, yet still receives UK overseas aid.
The annual payment of £280m is being cancelled in 2015 because the Indians themselves ridiculed the British for giving it. Finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, told the Indian Parliament that the payment was “peanuts”, as it totalled less than 0.03 percent of India’s national income.
The £280m payment undoubtedly frees up Indian taxpayers’ money for other projects, such as the purchase of Russian weapons for Afghanistan. India will also help finance the repair of the old Soviet military hardware that currently remains unused in Afghanistan from the last Russian invasion the country.