BrahMos Deal With Philippines

 

Context:

  • The US$ 375 million BrahMos deal between India and the Philippines signed on 28 January 2022 is not just a one-off arms deal, but a milestone in India’s relations with the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The deal posits a complex geopolitical picture in the region.
  • For the Philippines, the missile batteries will equip the country’s naval forces with much-needed deterrent capacity against China, thus tilting a favourable balance of power towards Manila, contributing to the stability of the Indo-Pacific.

 

About:

  • The agreement is a testimony to India’s shining record as an adherent of international law.
  • Moreover, it marks a convergence between India’s Act East and Defence Export policies by increasing India’s profile as a defence trade partner of medium/high technology products.

 

Complex Geopolitics

  • The BrahMos agreement between India and the Philippines indirectly involves players beyond the two countries.
  • The BrahMos Aerospace is a collaboration between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India and Joint Stock Company “Military Industrial Consortium” “NPO Mashinostroyenia”, Russia (earlier known as Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPOM of Russia) with 50.5 per cent and 49.5 per cent stakes respectively.
  • The Philippines is a treaty ally of the United States (US), and the agreement is aimed at China which is a close partner of Russia in the current times. Thus, the deal can be read in multiple ways.
  • It shows an urge to diversify the defence hardware on Manila’s part. Further, the Philippines’ choice of India–a partner of both Russia and the US–has exhibited the country’s sagacity in selecting strategic partners.
  • As is apparent from the recently published Indo-Pacific strategy, the US perceives India positively, and China’s muted reaction owes to its close partner Russia.
  • By selling defence equipment to China’s adversaries, Russia has sent a subtle message to China that it be treated as an equal. Despite its economic woes, Kremlin remains a force to reckon with.

Implications on India:

  • The culmination of the BrahMos deal is a crucial milepost in India’s endeavour to give substance to the Act East policy in the security and defence realm.
  • During the 9th East Asia Summit (EAS) in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared India’s intention to graduate from Look East to Act East policy, indicating a proactive approach towards Southeast Asia.
  • Hitherto, the India–Southeast Asia defence relations were restricted to training, port visits, bilateral/multilateral military exercises and export of low-end technology weapons and non-lethal military equipment.
  • However, with the operationalisation of the Act East policy, India’s defence ties with Southeast Asia have matured to include defence trade of medium/high technology items.

 

Conclusion

  • The significance of the BrahMos deal could be gauged from the fact that the signing of the deal was followed up by the External Affairs Minister of India S. Jaishankar’s visit to the Philippines on 13–15 February 2022.
  • The two maritime nations recognised the importance of maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific. Moreover, the Philippines recognised India as a “partner in promoting peace and security in the region, as well as in advocating the rule of law in the face of armed ambition and the anarchy that follows it

Source The Hindu

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