Defense Minister’s visit to India: at some point weapons too

Germany is courting India – also as a military partner. This country is not a prime example of a healthy democracy.

Kolkata, January 22, 2023: Soldiers during dress rehearsal for military parade on India’s National Day Photo: Sudipta/Pacific Press/imago

Secretary of State Annalena Baerbock spoke of a value partner, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the high-tech nation. When Defense Secretary Boris Pistorius visits India on his Indo-Pacific tour Tuesday and Wednesday, the main focus will probably be weapons. Welcome to Realpolitik, welcome to military partners.

India may be the world’s largest democracy in terms of population, but it is not the brightest. The Hindu nationalist government curtailed press freedom, suppressed minorities and waged bloody wars with China and Pakistan for supremacy in Kashmir.

Nevertheless, the Germans courted India more ferociously than ever. Is it fanatical? Yes and no. In an ideal multipolar world order, where a few equally powerful players monitor compliance with international law and the rule of law, as Germany favors, India matters: as the most populous nation, a nuclear power, and a regional counterweight to China. In addition, this year leads the G20, the world’s most important club of industrialized and developing countries. Supporting India also means further isolating autocracies like China and Russia.

Although India abstained from condemning Russia’s war of aggression in the UN General Assembly and maintained good relations with Putin, the war was unofficially deemed illegal and dangerous. Hence it is true that the federal government is making efforts to help India. Even if that means talking about weapons projects and maybe also about arms deliveries at some point. The Indian army gets most of its equipment from Russia. It can only end this military dependency if the West steps in as a supplier. But this must not cause Germany to give up any principles related to arms exports and human rights.

Strap action.

Ambrose Fernandez

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