Defence Researched Institute in India
Posted on | 05-Dec-2016

ENVIRONMENT SCAN: 28 NOV 2016

China (Continental), China (Maritime), Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Afghanistan, Asean, iraq, Yeman, Russia

 CHINA (CONTINENTAL)
Brig Jai Singh Yadav, VSM

China Cautiously Backs India-Japan Nuclear Deal.
 

Last fortnight PM Narendra Modi visited Japan and signed a nuclear deal. China cautiously backed India-Japan nuclear deal saying all countries are entitled to peaceful use of nuclear energy if they meet the international non-proliferation obligations.

Beijing also reacted mildly to the references to the South China Sea in the India-Japan joint statement, reiterating its earlier stand that countries outside the region should respect efforts made by China and other contestants to resolve the dispute.

Japan has traditionally adopted a tough stand on proliferation issues having been the only victim of atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.


India is the first country which has not signed nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with which Japan has signed the civil nuclear agreement. China opposes India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), citing India's refusal to sign NPT.

Assessment .  China stated its rhetoric even before the visit of Indian PM to Japan. The India- Japan relations and cooperation is taken to be anti-China for both economic and South China Sea issues. The ibid agreement has been taken to be an attempt by both India and Japan to restrict China’s influence at regional and global level.
US Leaving TPP: A Great News for China.  

 
The President Donald Trump promised that the US will quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on his first day in the White House.  TTP was a 12-nation regional (Pacific rim and SE Asian countries less China) trade deal was a way of bolstering American leadership in Asia. It was finalized in Dec 2015 and was yet to be ratified by all member nations.
TPP allowed America - and not countries like China - to write the rules of the road in the 21st Century, which is especially important in a region as dynamic as the Asia-Pacific.TPP was a core part of the Obama administration's strategic "pivot to Asia". 
No wonder then that Beijing saw the US pivot to Asia, and the TPP within that, as a thinly disguised plan to contain China's growing might. Already at the APEC summit in Peru last weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping told fellow regional leaders it was time for strong partnerships, win-win solutions and strategic initiatives.
China lost no time in setting to work on re-energized discussion of the less ambitious trade deals Beijing backs, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, and Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, FTAAP.
And these moves on trade leadership come within the context of China's "One Belt One Road", a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar blueprint to expand China's investment, trade and strategic influence throughout Asia; alongside Beijing's funding of new development lending institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Assessment.  In any great power game in Asia, the US retreat from TPP is in China's economic and strategic interest. The TPP announcement has also caused enormous uncertainty in the minds of SE Asian countries about US intentions in the region under Trump’s presidency. However, one needs to wait and watch for ibid announcement’s post actions and its effects in the region.

CHINA (MARITIME)
Capt Ranjit Seth

PIVOT TO ASIA IN THE AGE OF DONALD TRUMP.  US President Barack Obama's strategic pivot toward Asia attracted a lot of international attention. There is considerable debate and speculation about whether President-elect Trump's approach to Asia would be different. It would have significant bearing on India’s ties with the US as well as influence in the Asia Pacific region.
There is concern that the new administration could undo President Obama's pivot to Asia policy by exhibiting an isolationist streak as often proclaimed during run up to the elections. 
On examining the pivot, it appears that the strategy has remained more rhetorical than real. The ‘pivot’ has done little to tame China's muscular approach to territorial, maritime and trade disputes. The coining of a catchy term, ‘pivot’ has rather obscured the key challenge the US faces to remain the principal security anchor in Asia - a relentless push by China to expand its maritime territories and sphere of influence.
There is a feeling in the American strategic community that President Obama increasingly ceded ground to China in Asia during his tenure. This emboldened Beijing to act more aggressively, as was seen by its steady expansionism in the South China Sea.
The US under President Obama did not speak up strongly even when China in 2012 occupied the Scarborough Shoal, located well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone. The takeover occurred despite a US-brokered deal under which both Beijing and Manila agreed to withdraw their vessels from the area. Yet the American response to the capture, in spite of its mutual-defence treaty with the Philippines was muted. The American inaction spurred China's frenzied creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea.
Then in 2013, when China unilaterally declared an air defence identification zone covering territories that it claimed but did not control in the East China Sea, President Obama’s administration again hesitated. As a result, the US condoned establishment of China's ADIZ (Air Defence Identification Zone). In retrospect it would appear that the pivot has not acquired any concrete strategic content and heft. For countries bearing the brunt of China's aggressive policies, this lack of clarity about the US commitment has forced several of them to be more mindful of Chinese concerns and interests.
As a consequence of a timid Pivot to Asia strategy, China's strengthening naval capability and projecting power far from its shores are helping it to shape a strongly Sino-centric Asia. China today has of the world's fastest-growing undersea fleets; and recently it announced that its first aircraft carrier is ready for combat.
President elect Trump could face an early test of will from China. Its expanding sphere of influence in an American area of interest will test the new US administration's limits. The world and particularly the Asia Pacific region will be looking on expectantly. The President elect, in keeping with his tough guy image, could permit the US navy and air force to initiate more aggressive reconnaissance and freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea.
This will set the stage for shaping of a new order in the region and have great impact on India’s strategic calculus. 

PAKISTAN
Brig Deepak Malhotra

IDEAS 2016.  The 9th International Defence Exhibition and a Seminar (IDEAS) was held at the Karachi Expo Centre from 22 to 25 Nov 2016. ‘IDEAS’ is a biennially held defence exhibition held in Pakistan which brings together the defence industry's players across the globe to showcase latest technological innovations. Pakistan claims that ninety foreign delegations from forty-eight countries participated in the mega defence event and 14 memoranda of understanding were signed.  A seminar on “Stability and the Economics of Regional Peace in South Asia” was also held on the first day. Some of the major indigenously developed products displayed at the event include battle tank Al-Khalid, JF-17 Thunder, Super Mushshak and K-8 aircraft, Fast Attack Craft Missile boats, UAVs and armoured personnel carriers.
Comments.  This initiative by Pakistan is part of its ongoing aggressive marketing strategy to boost its defence exports in the Indian sub-continent as well as gain inroads into the African continent. India too needs to focus on indigenous defence production for domestic as well as export to its neighbours.
Pak COAS.  Gen Qamar Javed Bajwaan infantry officer from the Balouch regiment was appointed as the Pakistan Chief of Army Staff.  He is the fourth officer from the infantry’s Baloch Regiment to become the army chief.The army chief-designate is credited with having spent a considerable part of his military service in the Rawalpindi-based 10 Corps, which is responsible for guarding the Line of Control (LoC). This experience could prove invaluable as he takes command amidst serious escalation on the LoC, which saw some of the intense skirmishes since 2003.
Comments.  The succession is not likely to immediately bring about a major change in policies, but it could still have important implications for ties with India and Afgha-nistan, and domestically for the civil-military equation and the ongoing fight against terrorism.

NEPAL
Col Harpreet Singh

Demonitisation Effect on Nepal.  Nepal, a major recipient of Indian developmental aid, has taken up with New Delhi the issue of demonetisation of high-value currency bills and the impact it could have on financial assistance to them. The Nepal Rashtra Bank is in touch with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regarding facilitation of collection and deposit of old Rs 500 and Rs1,000 notes that are already with them and with other banks and financial institutions. As per this year’s budget, India has earmarked                    Rs 5,490 crore for Bhutan and Rs 300 crore for Nepal.  The law enforcement agencies in Nepal however were positive that the move would curb the menace of fake currency which is routed through Nepal. 

Comments.  Nearly 30% of Nepal’s currency is in Indian rupees and it is a major route of fake currency to India. This demonetisation is a death blow to the fake currency racket at least in the short term. A number of pensioners of the Indian Armed Forces have domicile in Nepal hence India is morally bound to provide new currency to Nepal at the earliest. However this is likely to happen only once our domestic currency needs are somewhat stabilised

BANGLADESH
Col Saikat Roy

‘Bangladesh will Drop Islam as State Religion…’.  Muslim-majority Bangladesh will drop Islam as the country's state religion, "when the time comes", a senior ruling Awami League leader, Abdur Razzaq, was quoted as saying at the roundtable organised by SAARC Cultural Society at the National Press Club. 

Assessment.  Secularism was one of the four basic principles in the Constitution, when it was written in 1972. After the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,                            Zia-ur- Rahman, captured power and replaced 'secularism' with 'Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah'. In 1988, the government of Muhammad Ershad passed the National Religion Bill in the Parliament, declaring Islam as the state religion. The 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 2011, re-introduced the four basic principles of the 1972 Constitution - nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism, but Islam remained the state religion.

The statement assumes importance coming from a member of the present political disposition in Bangladesh. It also reflects the leaning of the present Govt under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, which is seen by many as a progressive and tolerant Govt, inclined to the ideals of secularism. 

 
Notwithstanding, it has not been able to mustered enough confidence in the electorate to force a decision on the issue given the spread of radical Islam, spate of violence directed towards the minority community and the consequent polarized state of the society.  It seems Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would as of now, draw succor from maintaining normalcy in the country.
  
Bangladesh Takes Delivery of Two Submarines.  Bangladesh on Monday, November 14, 2016 took delivery of two Ming class submarines, bought from China, as it seeks to boost its naval power in the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh had ordered the two boats from China in 2013 and is reported to have paid over $203 million for the two submarines. 

Assessment.  Bangladesh has been expanding its defence capabilities in recent years, building a new airbase close to neighbouring Myanmar, opening several new military cantonments across the country and adding new frigates to its naval fleet. In 2013 the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed a billion-dollar deal with Russia to buy fighter training jets, helicopters and anti-tank missiles. Hasina planned to purchase the two submarines the same year as part of her government's move to build a modern navy to defend the resource-rich Bay of Bengal. 

The purchase of the submarines is being considered as a provocative action by New Delhi, which argues that since Bangladesh shares it’s International Boundary with India (4096 km) and Myanmar (271 km) only, the purchase of submarines is not justified  given that Bangladesh has resolved its maritime border disputes (both) with India and Myanmar. International relations with Bangladesh as on date are also at its best since its creation in 1971. Moreover, New Delhi is extremely apprehensive as it expects Chinese crew, though in a small number, could be present on these submarines to guide the Bangladesh crew through the initial stages of operations. The Chinese are also likely to be involved in setting up the shore infrastructure like repair yards, training facilities and operational support establishments for smooth conduct of submarine operations. 

Bangladesh officials have dispelled Indian apprehension by asserting that the acquisition was necessitated to ensure the country's sovereignty over 111,631 square kilometres of sea, an area nearly equal to its landmass. Nevertheless, India will have to remain vigilant on the growing Chinese influence in the sub-continent. 

SRI LANKA
Col Saikat Roy

Sri Lanka to Operate Hambantota Port as a Joint Venture of State and Private Sectors.  The Sri Lankan government has decided to maintain the operation of loss-making Hambantota Port as a joint venture of state and private sectors Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said on Friday, Nov 18, 2016.

Minister Ranatunga said that under the new arrangement, the port will be operated as a joint Public-Private Partnership venture project of Sri Lanka and Chinese investors. He said a Chinese company valued the port around US$ 750 million but the previous government has obtained a US$ 1.5 billion loan with a high interest rate to build the port. 

The Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday, Nov 17, 2016 had clarified that the government planned to lease out (99 years) the Hambantota port for US$ 1.2 billion to Chinese Merchant to help the Balance of Payments.

Assessment.  The Chinese are all set to establish a foothold on the island with the lease of Hambantota.  It is an important port which is located in the Southern tip of the Island astride the SLOCs emanating from Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. The lease of the port will also afford major strategic payoffs in favour of the Chinese who will now have greater presence Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. With this masterstroke Chinese have accomplished yet another victory in the maritime encirclement of India. 


MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
Col Saikat Roy

India Confirms Deal with Russia for T-90 Tanks.  The Indian Ministry of Defence has approved a deal with Russia for the supply of 464 T-90MS. T-90 is third generation Russian Tank known for its fire power. The export version of the new T-90MS tanks includes fragmentation projectile with remote detonation. India is already using Russian made tanks since long including T-72 and T-90 and has 850 T-90 operational in Indian Army. For the implementation of the contract a Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) near Chennai, is planned to be built, however bulk of the latest T-90MS will be delivered directly from Russia.

Defence Acquisition Council gives a Go Ahead for the M-777A2 Howitzer.  In mid-November 2016, the Defence Acquisition Council approved for purchase the much-delayed M-777A2 Ultra-Light Howitzers also known as the “Triple Seven”. India will now buy 145 of such 155mm 39-calibre towed guns for its Mountain Strike Corps, which was raised in 2013. This gun would be acquired from the United States through the Foreign Military Sales authorised by the Arms Control Export Act. These guns are reported to replace the obsolete BAE Systems’ Bofors FH-77B 155mm 39 caliber guns. 

AFGHANISTAN
Brig Deepak Malhotra


Attack on Shias in Kabul.  Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a crowded Shiite mosque in Kabul on 21 Nov 2016 that killed more than 30 people and wounded dozens in its third major attack on minority Shiites in the Afghan capital since July. Shia Muslims in Afghanistan make up an estimated 15 percent of the country's population of about 30 million. Their public celebrations and commemorations were largely banned during the years when the Taliban controlled the country. But Afghanistan's Shia community has become more public since the Taliban was ousted. The bombings marked the deadliest single attack in the capital since the Taliban were ousted from power in the US-led invasion of 2001.
Comments.  Bloody sectarian rivalry between Sunni and Shiite Muslims has been relatively rare in Afghanistan, a majority Sunni country, but the attack underlines the deadly new dimension that growing ethnic tension could bring to its decades-long conflict. This attack also underscores the relevance being sought by ISIL in Afghanistan.
 
ASEAN
Brig Jai Singh Yadav, VSM

Philippines: President Duterte Wants to Join ‘New World Order’ Under Russia, China

 
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said last week he is willing to join a “new world order” created by communist China and the Russian regime.
Duterte noted that he expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the summit in the Peruvian capital of Lima. His comments came after he declared, while in China last month, that it was “time to say goodbye” to the United States. He also denounced the UN as inutile in stopping wars. Like Russia, Duterte said he might withdraw from the ICC.
Assessment.  Relations between longtime allies, the Philippines and the United States, have been deteriorating since Duterte began carrying out extrajudicial killings of thousands of drug suspects, a move that the administration of President Barack Obama and other Western governments have denounced. The statement by Phillipino President is a major strategic shake-up in the region and may help China’s economically and also its claims in South China Sea and influence in SE Asia.

WEST ASIA
Brig Ranjit Singh

IRAQ

Offensive to Retake Mosul.   The major offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS launched by Iraqi security forces, duly supported by International Coalition led by US, in the second half of Oct 2016, is progressing well. The progress of operations in last 15 days has been steady but facing stiff resistance from ISIS, the city of Mosul has been surrounded from all directions, the noose is being tightened rapidly. The Al Hased Al Shaabi, the predominant Shia militia, in particular has made significant gains. The Iraqi forces have gained major successes which include the following:- 

-    The Iraqi forces have reported that 50% of Nineveh Province has been
            liberated from ISIS.

-    Iraqi Police has killed 50 and arrested ISIS elements south of Mosul.

-    The Joint Forces have liberated three areas along SE axes leading to
                      Mosul, killed 4 ISIS elements.

-    Al Hased Al Shaabi forces liberated 2 villages in Tel Afar, earlier handed
           over  to Army 16 villages liberated from ISIS. The force has  cut off  road
           from Tel Afar to Sinjar, preventing ISIS elements from escaping to Syria.
           Shia militia has discovered tunnels in Tel Afar airport. Iraqi parliament
           has voted to merge Al Hased Al Shaabi militia with the National Army.

-    Coalition airstrikes destroyed two explosives factories of ISIS in Mosul. 

-    33 ISIS elements and 9 soldiers were killed in anti-terror during storming
                      of Mosul Aden.

-    It is reported that around 1300 ISIS elements have been killed so far in the
           ongoing operations.

-    The Joint Forces have liberated 6 areas west of Mosul.
-    Security Forces have foiled attack by 200 ISIS elements south of Mosul.

-    Coalition airstrikes has destroyed the last bridge on River Tigris, isolating
                      Mosul from west bank.

US led Coalition Air Strikes.     The US led Coalition has been carrying out large scale intense airstrikes against ISIS targets in Mosul, creating large scale destruction to the outfit. 
 ISIS has suffered major casualties in Mosul.   Though has been putting up stiff resistance, its cadres are gradually falling apart, due to inevitable defeat. The prominent indications are as follows:- 

•    ISIS fighters alongwith families are reported to have fled to Syria before liberation of Tel Afar. 
•    ISIS has executed 15 civilians in Mosul, believed to be colluding with security forces.
•    ISIS Tel Afar Wali has fled with his associates stealing millions of dollars.
•    ISIS has closed border with Syria to prevent its elements fleeing Mosul.
Rise in Refugee Numbers.   With the progress of operations, the number of IDPs is rising rapidly and presently increased to 72,000 from 40,000 last reported from the camps being run. The numbers are likely to raise much higher as the battle closes to the central Mosul.

People Return to their Homes in Captured Areas.  The people have started returning to their homes in the areas which have been retaken from ISIS.

Comments.  The major offensive to liberate Mosul launched in the second half of Oct 2016, has been progressing well. The operations are progressing steadily but meeting stiff resistance. Mosul has been isolated from all directions and the noose is being tightened gradually, to facilitate its early capture.

It is expected that with progress of operations, ISIS resistance is likely to crumble due to large number of casualties, defection in the ranks and armed rebellion brewing amongst the people. The operations could be expected to culminate earlier than expected. However, one of the commander of Al Hashed Al Shaabi has reported that liberation of Mosul may take months.

Due to large number of IDPs, a humanitarian crisis is looming large as the operations gain momentum for capture of Mosul. Approx 72,000 IDPs have reported to the refugee camps, so far. 

SYRIA

Syria Govt Forces Capture Strategic District in East Aleppo. The Govt forces has captured the strategic Hanano Area, taking control of entire district from the rebels, thus striking a major blow, dividing the areas of east Aleppo under the control of rebels.

Aleppo Faces Starvation.  The residents of East Aleppo, under rebel control stare at starvation and humanitarian disaster. The entire infrastructure, particularly the hospitals have been destroyed. The residents face severe winter with critically low food stocks.

President Obama not Optimistic about Syria Future.  The US President has said that in view of Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria, the future of Syria remains uncertain, as it is untenable for the opposition.

Egypt has Expressed Support for Govt Forces in Syria.    The Egyptian President Sisi, has expressed his support to the Syrian military, contrary to the stand by Saudi Arabia. He said our priority is to support the national Armies as being done in Libya and Iraq.
Turkey Issues Arrest Warrants Against US Backed Kurdish Rebels Fighting Against ISIS in Syria.  Turkey has issued arrest warrants against US backed 48 Kurdish fighters and its leader for attacks in Turkey.

Comments.  Syria peace process appears farfetched due to vested interests of US and Russia and their inability to arrive at an amicable solution. But with change of US President in Jan 17, the situation may change with likely better relations between US and Russia.

The ongoing conflict in Aleppo is heading for a humanitarian disaster, as the siege of eastern Aleppo held by rebels continues. The Govt forces have made major gains by capturing strategic locations in the city. The city has been devastated in the prolonged fighting between the rebels and Govt forces.

YEMEN

Arab Coalition Sends more Troops and Equipment to Yemen.   It is reported that Saudi led coalition has sent more troops and equipment to Yemen, apparently for an offensive to break siege around the city of Taiz. Fierce clashes between the Hadi forces and Houthi rebels have been reported in the city in which the rebels have suffered major setbacks. The additional troops have been moved to take advantage of the situation.

Govt Forces Push Deeper in to Saada.   The Govt forces have made deep inroads in to the houthi power base of Saada, taking control of several strategic locations and killing dozens of rebels.
 
Anti Al Qaeda Raids in South Yemen.   Around 300 Al Qaeda members have been arrested by the Govt forces in the ongoing operations in south Yemen, since April this year.

UN envoy new bid for peace talks.   The UN envoy to Yemen has made fresh bid for peace talks between the Govt and Houthi rebels. The previous peace talks held in Aug failed to make any headway. The peace proposal suggested by UN envoy last month, for peace talks was rejected by the Govt.

South Yemen raises question of separation.  North and south Yemen were unified in 2007. A large protest was organized in Oct in South Yemen, for separation from North, on account of exploitation of natural resources and unfair deal to South Yemen.

Comments.   A fresh attempt for UN sponsored peace talks is being made by the UN envoy, however, its success is doubtful due to rigid stand by both the parties.
The induction of additional troops and equipment by Saudi led coalition for breaking the siege around the city of Taiz could succeed in case the success is exploited at the earliest by the Govt forces.

The Govt forces operations against Al Qaeda in South Yemen have been successful, large number of their elements have been killed or arrested.

The demand for separation of South Yemen from North, if intensified could add new dimension to the already complex problem. It is quite likely that ISIS and Al Qaeda could take advantage by fermenting the problem.

RUSSIA
Col Harpreet Singh

Pakistan – Russia Détente.  Pakistan has decided to accord approval to a Russian request for using the Gwadar port in Balochistan for its exports as Moscow has also shown its willingness to be part of the $46-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Formal authorisation to Russia to join the CPEC will be given soon, and both countries will enhance cooperation in economic, defence and intelligence matters.  It is possible that the agreement will be signed when President Vladimir Putin visits Pakistan as per his schedule in 2017. 

Pakistani media reported that the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, made a secret visit to Pakistan and met senior military officials. This was the first visit by a Russian intelligence agency’s head to Pakistan in 14 years. Matters to enhance bilateral cooperation in Intelligence and defence were reportedly discussed in the meetings. The head of the Russian intelligence agency reportedly made a request about his country joining the CPEC, which was accepted by Pakistan, the reports said. 
The increase in cooperation with Russia comes at a time when Pakistan’s relations with the US are deteriorating. 
Russia and Pakistan held their first joint military exercise in September. About 70 soldiers from a mountain motorised rifle brigade of Russia’s Southern Military Division took part in the exercise. 
Russia lifted a long-standing arms embargo and signed a landmark military cooperation agreement with Pakistan in 2014. Last year, the two sides finalised a deal for four Mi-35 attack helicopters – a move that angered India. Since then, reports have suggested that Pakistan is interested in acquiring more military gear from Russia, including Su-35 combat jets.

Comments.  It is evident that Russia is moving closer to Pakistan. Russia views Pakistan as a potential arms market to export its military hardware. Moreover since Pakistan’s arms industry is mostly dependent on China, the recent warming of relations between Russia and China also may have something to do with this. Also with China being the main player in Gwader it is in their interest that the port becomes an international trading hub. However the major reason is probably to send a signal to India that closer relations with US at a time when US – Russia ties are at an all time low will come at a cost.

Though India has had its problems with the cost and delivery schedules of major arms purchases like Admiral Gorshkov and the T-90, Russia has been an all weather friend of India in the past and it is in our interest to keep an important world power and a permanent member of the UN Security Council leaning towards India. However we do need to tell the Russians through diplomatic channels that engagement with Pakistan, esp military engagement, at a time when it is increasingly facing global criticism due to terrorism may affect bilateral relations. India is a much bigger arms market than Pakistan and this gives us greater leverage.  Moreover India, in conjunction with Iran, could offer Russia an alternative access to warm waters through Chabahar Port. However with the change of the US president and likely improvement of relations between Russia and US, coupled with India’s concerns, Russia is likely to go slow on its relations with Pakistan in the near to medium term. 

Russia sends its Aircraft Carrier to Middle East.  Russia’s only aircraft carrier, is heading south to war. The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and seven more vessels sailed Saturday from the Northern Fleet’s Arctic headquarters of Severomorsk. It’s the eighth time the ship and its escorts have made the journey to the Mediterranean, a trip that has become a key part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy to reassert Moscow’s naval strength and reach.
This deployment, though, is very different. Moscow has spent considerable resources over the last decade developing the ability to conduct operations from the carrier, launched in the dying days of the Soviet Union. But unlike its U.S., French, British and Italian counterparts, it has never used the ship in anger. That’s about to change. Perhaps within as little as two weeks, it’s SU-33 and MiG-29 jets will be slamming ordinance into downtown Aleppo and other parts of Syria.
Russia’s senior naval commanders will be hoping this deployment strengthens their hand in face-offs between branches of the military. Until now, most of the glory in recent military campaigns – Ukraine in the last two years, Georgia in 2008, Chechnya, or now Syria – has gone to ground and air forces. Now they can showcase themselves – as well as building the necessary skills and capabilities to develop a truly enduring carrier strike capability.
Comments.  A Russian carrier conducting strike operations in the Mediterranean doesn’t just reassert Moscow’s power, it further complicates the world’s geopolitics. And that’s precisely what Vladimir Putin wants.
Moscow clearly wishes to show that it can emulate Washington by sending a task force thousands of miles and then conducting weeks or months of military activity – an exercise that will highlight Russia’s renewed military capability. It will further complicate the political calculus for the United States and others when it comes to finding a way forward in Syria. And, of course, it offers a neat opportunity to remind a host of countries in northern Europe that Moscow cannot be ignored.
Indirect implication for India could be that China, too, will also unquestionably be interested – its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, was originally the Soviet Varyag, sister ship to the Kuznetsov.
 

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Gp Capt GD Sharma, VSM (Retd)

How will Trump Administration Impact Indo-American Defence Co-operation? One needs to wait and watch till Trump administration gets in office in January. However, if one is to believe the President elect Donald Trump election statements   on strategic issues, one does feel that Indo- American defence ties could see some recalibration. 

Strategic Partnership with India. India US strategic partnership hinges on commonality of views with China factor and terrorism.US is concerned with Pakistan’s undeclared state policy of supporting terrorism. U.S. believes   that resurgent   India in the region could act as a counter balance to china’s growing power in Asia. India‘s ‘Act East Policy’ and American policy of Asian rebalance/ pivot Asia which are in congruence has given a push to develop closer relationship. This also resulted in closer defence interaction at all level which culminated in signing of logistics Exchange Agreement to enable both militaries to use each other's assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies and also kindling a hope that India and America will sign other foundational agreements as well.  

Trump while is against currency manipulation by China may not like to contain or restrain china. He in his election statements has shown unwillingness in providing defence / nuclear umbrella to Eastern allies viz Japan, South Korea Vietnam, and Philippines and wants these nations to spend their own resources for their defence. This means that, he may not continue with present administration policy of Pivot Asia / Asian rebalance. If this were to happen, America will no longer pursue hegemonic    policy in Asia. This will spell an end to India US strategic partnership. The other Indication of disengagement from the region is his statement to scrap the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement of which though India is not the member is seen as a tool to isolate china.

The effect of this change would result in power vacuum in Asia and ASEAN nations will have no option but to align with China. At this time, Philippines and Malaysia are drifting away from U.S. and aligning with China in addition to Laos and Cambodia are already in the Chinese camp.  This will result in increase of china’s influence in the region and also result in more aggressive China. 

However, above analysis, runs counter to Donald Trump’s Election call of making ‘America Great’  and   ‘America First ‘and other statement on  resolve to increase defence expenditure to strengthen the armed forces which in Trump’s view has lost punch  with Obama’s policy of sequestration caused supposedly by  budget constraints. Hence, at this time there is not much clarity on American external policy.

America under Trump may have soft approach towards Russia. This will help India to assuage Russia who unfortunately was peeved in recent times due to enhancement of Indian defence purchases from America.  With India’s traditional closeness with Russia, we could play role in bringing both America and Russia closer. This could also help steering away Russia from China and create new alignments which may restrain   China’s free run in the region. This is a likely outcome of new alignment, despite the recent report that Russia would participate in China Pakistan Economic Corridor and use Gawadar port   to gain access to Indian Ocean.  After all, Russia may not like to play second fiddle to China if it has other options. 

America under Trump would have greater focus on anti-terror fight. His strong statements against terror sponsoring states confirms this .Hence on this account,   both India and America will continue cooperate and our western neighbor would not get financial support unless it shows  evidence of acting against all from of terrorism without distinction. On this, India will continue to get American support to get UN proscription against Pakistan based terrorists. 
 
American defence sales to India are not likely to be affected with change in the administration as Trump he is keen to enhance American trade which includes even the defence trade. 

We also had proactive American support in our quest in gaining entry to multilateral forums and as a permanent member in UN.  This year, with American support we have gained entry to MTCR and looking forward to join Australian group, Wassennar Arrangement and Nuclear Supplier Group. We do not expect loss of American support to India in joining   multilateral forums including permanent membership on UN. The advantage one can gauge from this fact that   with MTCR membership we are looking forward to increase range of BrahMos missile to 600km +.   

We however, need to wait and watch, for election rhetoric and actual administration of the nation are different.

Think Tank India

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    Chinese Chequers in the Indian Ocean Region

    Author : Suhas Banerjee

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  • Think Tank India

    Understanding Iran

    Author : Air Marshal (Retd) Dhiraj Kukreja, AVSM,VSM

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  • Think Tank India

    Role of Pakistan in India's Energy Security

    Author : Major General (Retired) Ajay Kumar Chaturvedi, AVSM, VSM

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  • Think Tank India

    A Spectrum of Modern Warfare

    Author : Ajay Singh

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  • Think Tank India

    Indo-U.S. Defence Cooperation

    Author : Gp Capt (Retd) GD Sharma, VSM

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    India's Strategic Stakes in Afghanistan

    Author : CENJOWS Study Team

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  • Think Tank India

    Space Security: Indian Perspective

    Author : Gp Capt (Retd) G D Sharma, VSM

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  • Think Tank India

    Integrated Force Projection by India

    Author : Vij Books India Pvt. Ltd.

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  • Think Tank India

    Defence Industrial Base

    Author : CENJOWS Study Team

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  • Think Tank India

    Armed Forces Tribunal Act

    Author : Vij Book Store

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  • Think Tank India

    Uniform Code of Military Justice

    Author : Col (Retd) R Balasubramaniam, VSM

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    Leveraging India's Soft Power as a Strategic Resources

    Author : Col (Retd) A K Singh & Gp Capt S Tiwari

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  • Think Tank India

    War Against Global Terror

    Author : Col (Retd) S K Sharma, Senior Fellow CENJOWS

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  • Think Tank India

    Think Tank India

    Author : Col (Retd) S K Sharma, Senior Fellow CENJOWS

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  • Think Tank India

    India's Comprehensive National Power

    Author : CENJOWS Study Group

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  • Think Tank India

    Indian Way of War Fighting

    Author : Col (Retd) S K Sharma, Senior Fellow CENJOWS

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  • Think Tank India

    Water A Source for Future Conflicts

    Author : Maj Gen(Retd) AK Chaturvedi, AVSM, VSM

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  • Think Tank India

    India's Quest for Defence Equipment Policy

    Author : Lt Gen (Retd) H S lidder, PVSM, UYSM, YSM, VSM

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  • Think Tank India

    Implementation of RTI Act 2005 in Armed Forces and its Implications

    Author : Brig A K Vyas

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