India signs key military agreement with the U.S. moving further away from Russia

India, once Russia's key ally in Asia and Russia’s largest buyer of weapons, is finally refocusing on military cooperation with the United States.

On Tuesday India and the United States signed an agreement BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation), which provides for the exchange of advanced military technologies and geospatial information.

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said at a press conference that the document was signed during the third Indian-American ministerial dialogue "2 plus 2" attended by Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

BECA will allow India to have real-time access to accurate data and topographical images from Pentagon military satellites.

Delhi and Washington will be able to exchange topographical information, marine, aeronautical and other maps, as well as commercial images, geophysical, geomagnetic and gravitational data. "This agreement is a further step in the development of the partnership between the two countries," Singh said.

The NDTV news agency reports, citing sources, that the agreement will help India to strike military targets in the region with high accuracy. India will also be able to closely monitor the movements of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean.

India has long been Moscow’s key ally in Asia. Delhi led the non-aligned movement and enjoyed Soviet support during the Cold War, and after the collapse of the alliance remained the largest buyer of Russian weapons.

The Trump administration has pursued a goal to sever that link. In 2016, the U.S. and India signed a memorandum on logistics exchange, and in 2018 - an agreement on the compatibility of communications and security (2018), which gave Delhi access to American weapons.

When this happened, military projects with Russia were scrapped. In 2018, India abandoned the project to develop a 5th generation Su-57 fighter jet, which was launched in the early 2000s.

In 2020, India rejected a project to build a Kalashnikov plant, despite Russia agreeing to fully localize the production and transfer all technologies.

  BECA, India, USA, Russia