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Supply chain of certain ammunition, spares impacted because of Russia-Ukraine conflict: Army Chief

NEW DELHI (PTI): India will have to monitor very closely the geopolitical flux including the realignment of forces following the Russia-Ukraine conflict and needs to ensure that the ongoing situation does not divert attention from the developments in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande said on Monday.

Talking about the immediate impact of the conflict on the Army, Gen Pande said that the supply chain of certain ammunition and spares has been affected to some extent but added that the available stocks are adequate to last for a reasonable period of time in the immediate future.

At an interaction with a select group of journalists, he said the Army is looking at certain other "mitigation measures" by identifying alternative sources amongst certain friendly foreign countries. Russia and Ukraine have been major suppliers of military hardware to India.

Gen Pande, who took over as the Army Chief on April 30, said India will have to especially watch out for the stance of its two adversaries in the emerging geopolitical scenario, in an oblique reference to China and Pakistan.

"In terms of the emerging geopolitical situation or the world order, that is something we have to monitor very closely in terms of realignment, in terms of new alliances," Gen Pande said.

"That is something which will emerge clearly once the conflict ends. We will also have to watch out for the stance and position of our adversaries, the two adversaries, as to what position they take," he said, in a reference to China and Pakistan.

The Chief of the Army Staff also said that India must ensure that the Ukraine crisis does not take away attention from the situation in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific.

He said another important aspect is that the "attention from our two areas of interests, or immediate interests – Afghanistan and Indo-Pacific – does not get diverted to what is happening in the Russia-Ukraine war."

"These are the situation and issues we have to constantly monitor and evolve our responses at the national level to address the situation of geopolitical flux," he added.

The Army Chief said India has to draw many lessons from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and added the Army is dependent on the two countries for certain equipment relating to air defence systems, rockets, missiles and certain tanks.

"Insofar as the immediate impact (of the conflict) is concerned, yes the supply chain of our spares, certain ammunition has got impacted to some extent but I would say we have adequate stocks to last for a reasonable period of time in the immediate future," Gen Pande said.

"We are also looking at certain other mitigation measures by identifying alternative sources amongst our friendly foreign countries and I think, in the long term, this is also an opportunity for our private industry to step up and involve themselves in the manufacture and production of some of the spares, armaments and equipment," he said.

The Army Chief also said the Indian Armed Forces have important lessons to take from the ongoing war, the foremost among them is how conventional war is still relevant.

He said the conflict also shows that wars necessarily need not be "short and swift" and that they could be prolonged in the manner the current conflict is unfolding.

Gen Pande also said that the conflict has shown the impact of non-contact or non-kinetic warfare, referring to the importance of cyber and information domains.

"We have seen the battle of narratives as to how information operations have been used in this conflict to gain advantage over the adversary," he said.

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