In a bid to move India further away from Russia, Britain is set to offer New Delhi technology to build its own fighter jets and a licence for faster deliveries of defence equipment.
In his first visit as UK prime minister, Boris Johnson will discuss with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, ways of boosting trade and security ties with the South Asian country that buys more than half of its military hardware from Moscow.
“The world faces growing threats from autocratic states which seek to undermine democracy, choke off free and fair trade and trample on sovereignty,” Johnson said in a statement after visiting Modi’s home state of Gujarat on Thursday.
“The UK’s partnership with India is a beacon in these stormy seas. Our collaboration on the issues that matter to both our countries, from climate change to energy security and defence, is of vital importance as we look to the future.”
He was expected to discuss “support for new Indian-designed and built fighter jets, offering the best of British know-how on building battle-winning aircraft”, the statement said.
Former colonial ruler Britain will issue a so-called open general export licence to India to shorten delivery times for defence items. Currently only the European Union and the US have such a licence, according to Johnson’s spokesperson.
In an attempt to move India away from Russia, the US has also offered more defence and energy sales to New Delhi.
Despite pressure from Washington, Modi’s government has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine except for calling for an end to violence.
India has also continued to buy Russian oil, reasoning that European countries were doing the same and in much greater quantities.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell