Improvisation in defence engagement
After supplying four attack helicopters to Afghanistan, India is quietly moving to qualitatively scale up military assistance in terms of long-term spares and support. This involves a trilateral framework with Russia, officials confirmed that it is likely to be discussed by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they meet on the sidelines of the sixth Heart of Asia (HoA) ministerial conference in Amritsar later this week, which will be attended by Russia as well.
This effectively formalises the trilateral mechanism which was mooted in 2014 in the backdrop of withdrawal of troops by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) but did not make progress at that time due to reluctance of the then UPA government.
Need to involve Russia
India has supplied three Cheetak utility helicopters, and in a major policy shift, agreed to transfer four Mi-25 attack helicopters from its inventory last year. While India seems to be open to supplying lethal hardware, involving Moscow is inevitable as most of the equipment is manufactured in Russia. This was evident in the case of an Mi-25 helicopter that was grounded due to lack of spares which had to be procured from Russia.