BY Nijat İsmayilov
New Delhi has also recently increased its contacts with three countries in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. For many years, India imports oil from Azerbaijan and made investments in Georgia’s agricultural and tourism sectors, and now is further expanding its military cooperation with Armenia. India’s recent increase in diplomatic activity in the South Caucasus is directly linked to the new Indian Foreign Policy. It is believed that the dividend that New Delhi will receive from the South Caucasus will very high if it manages to get what it is wishing. First of all, India considers these countries as a real market for its goods after the launch of North–South Transport Corridor (NSTC) and is already enhancing its contacts for preferential tariffs. India also intends to export the products of the recently developed military industry, such as the United States, Russia, and China. All three countries in the South Caucasus can be considered real buyers of Indian-made military products. And most importantly, India, the world’s third-largest oil importer has always interested in Azerbaijan, an oil-rich country of South Caucasus. The only detail that makes Azerbaijan interesting for India is not only its natural resources, but also its alliance with Pakistan. That is why India is trying to “stay in the game” in the South Caucasus. After the April 2016 war, India offered to sell its military equipment to both Azerbaijan and Armenia. Although Armenia reacted positively to this proposal, Azerbaijan, taking into account its alliance with Pakistan, politely refused. Subsequently, Azerbaijan agreed with Pakistan to purchase JF-17 Thunder and Super Mushak aircraft. Then, India’s hegemonic attack began after that. After this occasion, cooperation between India and Armenia intensified. On February 11, 2017, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan paid an official visit to India at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Modi and both discussed military cooperation. On April 26, 2017, Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari paid an official visit to Armenia. After meeting with Armenian leaders, Ansari told reporters that the leaders of India and Armenia are discussing joint cooperation in the military and other fields. India is ready to share its military-technical experience with Armenia. According to the Times of India, Armenia is interested in Indian-made Pinaka rocket launchers and intends to purchase them. It should be noted that this news was later confirmed by Armenian Defense Minister Artsrun Hovanesyan. In a statement to the press on September 27, 2019, the new Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, stated that Armenia unequivocally supports India’s position on the Kashmir issue. On December 17, 2019, Indian Ambassador to Armenia Kishan Dan Deval met with Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan as an award to their support and signed an agreement on joint cooperation in military issues. On March 2, 2020, it was announced that India would provide Armenia with four Swhati radar systems worth $ 40 million at cost price. It should be noted that Armenian experts predict that Armenia’s interest in Indian-made military equipment will increase. The reason is that Pashinyan is dissatisfied with the military equipment purchased during the previous Russian government. Military cooperation with Armenia is India’s most serious geopolitical advance in the South Caucasus. With this advance, India is “punishing” Azerbaijan, which is allied with Pakistan. India also uses Armenia as a threat to draw Azerbaijan to its side. Azerbaijan is both a profitable buyer and a good source of energy for India. In addition, gaining the support of a Muslim state in the Kashmir issue would be a significant diplomatic victory for India. Thus, the new Indian foreign policy is large-scale and courageous enough to launch a diplomatic attack from South Asia to the South Caucasus. However, this policy may create new problems for India, such as confrontation with Russia in Eurasia. This Indian move also indicates that dependence of India on Russia is diminishing and India itself wants to replace Russia in as a bigger seller of weapons in Eastern Europe as well as in Caucasus. Will India be the lead seller of weapons in Eastern Europe as well as in Caucasus? This question needs answer from Russian Arms Industry.
- Writer of this article Nejat Ismayilov is a political expert and journalist from Baku. The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.