Semiconductor shortage in Russia: India’s Russia Problem Will Grow

Source: The post is based on the article “India’s Russia Problem Will Grow” published in The Times of India on 23rd September 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

Relevance: Semiconductor shortage in Russia and India’s defence capability.

News: Russia has recently ordered its first mobilisation since World War II to bolster its invasion of Ukraine. This shows that the war is not going according to plan for Moscow. But this will hamper Russia’s defence production capabilities and its ties with India.

Why Russia is facing challenges in the Ukraine crisis?

Russia is facing the inability to access semiconductor chips for defence platforms. After the Ukraine crisis, the US quickly banned selling semiconductors used in defence systems to Russia. Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, also banned the export of items through the export control list provided by the US. Russia also does not have the infrastructure to manufacture these chips domestically.

Read more: Semiconductors: Heroes Of The New Digital World
What are the issues with Russia’s present defence production?

Ukraine has put out an alleged shopping list of Russian defence sector desperate to purchase. A US-based media company found a) Lack of complexity in Russian equipment that college students majoring in electrical engineering could reverse engineer and build most of the electronics used, b) An examination of the remnants of the missiles Russia launched on Ukraine showed the usage of older technology parts with elementary GPS systems. Sometimes Russia even used chips taken out of dishwashers and refrigerators. Old versions of navigation systems used in Russian-guided missiles make them miss their mark.

Read more: The Global Semiconductor Shortage – Explained, pointwise
How military mobilisation and the Russia-Ukraine war will hamper India’s defence capabilities?

India is the largest importer of Russian weaponry in the world. It is unlikely that the West will remove high-tech sanctions.

This has impacted India’s defence capabilities. For instance, a) Russia has delayed the delivery of two Talwar-class stealth frigates for up to six months, b) There is a short-term delay in the supply of S-400 Triumf missile systems and spares for Kilo-class submarines, MiG-29 fighters and Kamov Mi-17 military transport helicopters.

What Russia can do to improve its semiconductor productivity?

1) Russia could use chips from western manufacturers by indirectly sourcing them, 2) Russia can approach China and obtain the chips from them.

Read more: What is the controversial ‘Butterfly Mine’ Russia has allegedly used in Ukraine?
What India should do to improve its defence capability?

a) India must prepare for a sharp drop in Russia’s ability to deliver on defence purchase orders, b) Russian technology is dated, and the chips would come from the black market or China. So, India must 1) Diversify its weaponry in the short term, 2) Focus on local manufacturing over the long term, and 3) Utilise partnerships with the US, Japan, Australia, France, and Israel to secure defence equipment and chip supplies.

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