Defense Minister Pistorius wants to close arms deals with India. With this, Germany and the USA want to exploit a weakness of Vladimir Putin. But the shot could backfire.
Yoga can build bridges, especially in India. The Indian government sees the traditional mental and physical exercises as a valuable cultural export. In the past, Prime Minister Narendra Modi always opened World Yoga Day on June 21 with a mass meditation – a major propaganda show streamed live to the world. That is why Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) talked about his personal passion for yoga during his visits to New Delhi and Mumbai on Tuesday and Wednesday. His Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh called it “commendable” on Twitter on Tuesday evening.
The German defense minister’s commitment to yoga is part of a major charm offensive. Germany wants to solve its economic dependency on China in the long term and is also counting on India. In return, the Indian government should also get German weapons, and Pistorius wants to make sales easier in the future.
This is not without risk, as the Modi government is becoming increasingly autocratic. But for the West, the chance to win what will soon be the most populous country on earth is too tempting: In India, Pistorius is also concerned with taking away an arms buyer from Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin and at the same time weakening China in the Indo-Pacific – a power play with high stakes.
German arms for India
First and foremost it’s about business. India is one of the most important strategic partners for Germany and Europe in the Indo-Pacific region, said Pistorius on Tuesday in New Delhi. “As a result, we must treat him as such,” and “with deeds,” he added.
Pistorius has the following “acts” in mind: the defense minister announced joint maneuvers with the Indian Navy, German submarines are to be sold to India, and he advocated bringing relations with India “in line with how Japan and Australia are treated”. . For Japan and Australia, simplified rules apply to armaments deals, since they do not belong to the group of so-called third countries, but are on an equal footing with NATO partners. You can buy from German armaments companies without a complex approval process, but the federal government can still object.
That would be a risky step, because it is unclear in which direction India is heading politically. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes little in press freedom, and his Hindu nationalism is directed against the country’s ethnic diversity. Journalists are in prison, the government is becoming more autocratic. In the 2021 Democracy Index of the University of Würzburg, India is ranked 84th – behind countries such as Colombia, Indonesia and Niger.
In addition to Pistorius, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) have also been to India several times in recent months. German government representatives repeatedly emphasize India’s important role as the “largest democracy in the world”.
An effective shuttle diplomacy
But behind it is rather a diversification strategy of the German economy, confirm EU diplomats t-online. The federal government repeatedly emphasizes that it is against decoupling the German economy from China. Nevertheless, Germany in particular must position itself more broadly economically in order not to end up in a situation similar to that of its dependency on Russia for raw materials due to its dependence on China. That is why German companies are also looking to India.