How the Soviet Union Helped India Win the 1971 War

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How the Soviet Union Helped India Win the 1971 War
How the Soviet Union Helped India Win the 1971 Battle

Colonel ANIL A ATHALE (retd)

It’s a well timed reminder that when confronted with twin threats, India has succeeded by correctly selecting allies, factors out Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).

August 9 is etched in golden letters in historical past of India’s freedom motion because the day when Mahatma Gandhi gave the decision ‘Stop India’ to the British in 1942.

Twenty 9 years later, on this very day, India signed a ‘Peace and Friendship’ treaty with the Soviet Union to put the foundations of a wonderful victory within the warfare for liberation of Bangladesh that came about three months later.

In 1971 as India confronted an unacceptable refugee burden, it confronted a dire scenario. The US and Britain in addition to China have been on Pakistan’s facet within the upcoming battle.

The one course open to India was to herald the countervailing pressure of the Soviet Union on its facet.

Shorn of the standard diplomatese, the India-USSR Peace and Friendship treaty ensured that Soviet navy energy was exercised to assist India obtain its warfare goals.

The treaty signed in New Delhi by Sardar Swaran Singh and the redoubtable Andrei Gromyko of the Soviet Union — the international ministers of their respective nations — ensured that India checkmated attainable Anglo-American and Chinese language assist to Pakistan.

It’s well-known that when the Individuals and British despatched their navies into the Bay of Bengal (activity pressure 74 and activity pressure Eagle respectively) the Soviet navy confronted them.

Below Admiral V Kruglyakov, the Soviet navy intentionally let its nuclear submarines floor, to be picked up by American satellites, to threaten the American floor fleet.

The Soviets additionally organised a flotilla of cruisers and destroyers below activity pressure 40 to assist Admiral Kruglyakov’s a lot smaller pressure.

Confronted with these twin threats, the US and British activity forces withdrew from the Bay of Bengal and couldn’t intrude with Indian land operations in erstwhile East Pakistan now Bangladesh.

However in 1971, India additionally confronted the menace to its land borders from China. In reality, Pakistan had pinned its hopes of a profitable defence on Chinese language intervention in its favour.

Many Pakistani communications of that interval discuss of ‘our pals from the North coming to our assist’.

To conduct profitable operations in opposition to East and West Pakistan, India sorely wanted to keep away from a two entrance warfare scenario.

Indian troops from the China border have been wanted within the west on the Pakistan border.

It’s right here that the Soviet Union got here to our assist.

Simply two years earlier, in 1969, Soviet and Chinese language troopers had clashed close to Damansky Island on the Ussuri river. Tensions between the Soviet Union and China had been build up since 1968 and China’s deliberate aggression resulted in armed clashes in March 1969.

The clashes continued for over seven months and although the Soviets have been initially taken unexpectedly, they later rallied and used devastating artillery bombardment with Grad BM-21 rockets to decimate Chinese language positions on Damansky Island.

A ceasefire solely took place in September 1969 when Soviet and Chinese language leaders met at North Vietnamese lader Ho Chi Minh’s funeral in Hanoi.

Vietnam performed a mediatory position between the Communist giants because it was nervous {that a} conflict between the 2 would jeopardise its warfare in opposition to the Individuals.

In opposition to this background the Soviets noticed a possibility to restrict Chinese language affect by siding with India.

Instead of the standard deployment of 3-4 divisions, the Soviets deployed 44 motorised divisions on the Sino-Soviet border, making a land menace to China. This has been documented by the normally dependable Worldwide Institute of Strategic Research in London.

It’s this motion by the Russians that stopped the Chinese language from performing on the India-China border that facilitated India to skinny troops there for use in opposition to Pakistan.

The Indo-Soviet treaty can thus be stated to have performed a serious position in our success in December 1971.

Fortunately for us, the Sino-US alliance was nonetheless in a nascent stage and there was little or no co-ordination between Anglo-American naval strikes and Chinese language strikes on the land border.

Indira Gandhi performed her diplomatic playing cards adroitly and had most NATO nations again India.

This pre-empted any NATO transfer in opposition to Soviet Union at that second. A menace by NATO on its Western border might have hamstrung Soviet assist to India.

Why then is that this triumph of Indian diplomacy usually downplayed? The reply to this query is to be discovered within the juvenile attachment (virtually like pet love) of the New Delhi-based cabal to the defunct idea of ‘Non Alignment’.

These worthies as late as 2012 have been selling ‘Non Alignment 2.0’ when the so-called non-alignment was lifeless as a dodo on August 9, 1971 after we turned allies of the Soviet Union.

It’s a well timed reminder that when confronted with twin threats, India has succeeded by correctly selecting allies. The latest strikes on the Quad should be seen in that mild.

The enduring geopolitical truth is that irrespective of the present hobnobbing between China and Russia, geography and historical past dictates that these nations are more likely to stay long run rivals and even enemies.

For with out the sources of its jap territories, that are coveted by the China, Russia will probably be lowered to being a middling European energy and never a terrific energy because it aspires to be below Vladmir Putin.

Army historian Colonel Anil A Athale (retd) is a former Chhatrapati Shivaji Chair Fellow on the United Companies Institute of India.

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