How India Turned Lanka into an Expendable Battleground in a Clash with China
Posted on January 25th, 2020

Dilrook Kannangara

A battle fought in own country will bring untold sufferings to own population making the war unpopular. However, a war fought over another country saves own population and the battlefield can be devastated with any weapon that is available. This has been the case with many proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc. that devastated the unfortunate target country. India has turned Lanka into its battlefield in a clash with China.

In January 2020 India positioned BrahMos missile armed Su-30 fighter jets in a Tamil Nadu air base in Thanjavur. It is a highly offensive move aimed at destroying Chinese fishing, cargo and military vessels if war breaks out. Su-30 jets are of Russian origin that are highly agile attack aircraft with an average unfueled range of around 2,000km. BrahMos missile which is a Russian-Indian collaboration is world’s fastest cruise missile. Its air launched version has a range of 400km. One way range of the plane and the total range of the missile puts 1,400km from their base. In other words the weapons combination can strike anywhere within a radius of 1,400km from Thanjavur.  

The planes and missiles are not for the targeting of India’s coastal areas which are defended by cheaper and far more devastating coastal defence systems. Visakhapatnam air force and naval base is for the targeting of any Chinese vessels in the upper parts of Bay of Bengal.

The new Thanjavur base is to target Chinese vessels from Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone!

Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone extends 370km from coast. With a vertical stretch of 417km, the outermost point of Lanka’s EEZ is 1,200km from Thajavur. This puts the entire Lankan EEZ within the striking distance of the new Indian deployment.

The other sea areas the attack radius extend are either not used by any Chinese vessels or come under dedicated and better Indian defences. In short, India will destroy Chinese vessels and suffer counter attacks within the territory and the EEZ of Sri Lanka. As a result Sri Lanka is in the crosshairs of both powers in a confrontation. Since such a clash will be fought outside the territory of both India and China, they will be more willing to pick a fight. It has no devastation on their populations.

In addition to massive collateral damage, Sri Lanka will also suffer the wrath of China and a possible war crimes charge too as its territory and the EEZ are used to launch attacks on Chinese interests. China will probably retaliate which will once again destroy matter within Sri Lanka’s territory and EEZ.

To make matters worse, Sri Lanka recently agreed with India to share maritime surveillance information with India for $50 million. India uses Sri Lanka not only to attack Chinese vessels but also to spy on them. These recent deals with India are on top of already existing anti-China deals Lanka has with USA (ACSA since 2007 and SOFA since 1995). Sri Lanka always allowed and continues to allow overfly for US and Indian military planes.

Step by step, Sri Lanka has moved too far away from its non-aligned and neutrality position. Now it is a military outpost of USA and India over which devastating battles will be fought with China. All three players will generously use firepower as their populations are safe hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. The non-aligned, middle path and neutrality policies as practiced by Colombo have turned Lanka into the proverbial kindhearted woman who is pregnant every day. And the political blame game continues in the backdrop of the new Great Game. Who really cares for Lanka when Lankans themselves don’t care.

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