Indian companies have been accused of complicity in the war in Ukraine after exporting leather to Russian companies that make boots for its military in the months since the operation has begun against Ukraine.

In recent weeks, the US and European authorities claimed that Iran had sent drones to Russia for use in the war on Ukraine.

The Iranian officials have time and again repudiated the claim but the Western states still insist on their claim. 

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"Indian companies producing leather by exporting to Russia are actually complicit in the war in Ukraine," claimed the British daily newspaper "The Guardian" wrote in an article, without mentioning the tens of billions of Western military aid to Ukraine.

Indian companies have been accused of enabling Russia’s war effort after exporting leather to Russian companies that make boots for its military in the months since the war in Ukraine.

Russia and India have longstanding ties and Narendra Modi’s government has not joined western countries in openly criticizing Moscow over the war nor stopped Indian companies from trading with Russia.

Trade has instead boomed by 413% as India has become one of the biggest purchasers of cheap Russian crude oil and Russian manufacturers increasingly look to India to supply crucial goods that can no longer come from the West.

The Ukrainian government has in response accused India of giving Vladimir Putin a “loophole” against western sanctions and in a speech this week Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, called for India to be “more active” in efforts to end Russian operation.

"The Indian leather company Homera Tanning, based in the state of Haryana, was upfront about its dealings with Russia. The company confirmed it was supplying leather hides and leather boot products worth £830,000 each month to Russia and that two of the biggest users of its materials were Donobuv and Vostok, Russian footwear companies that are primary suppliers of boots to the Russian military," the British daily reported.

Publicly available records from 2021 show Donobuv had contracts worth millions of roubles with the Russian government to manufacture military footwear. 

“Russia was a regular market like any other market, like China or Europe, but suddenly after the war, there was a boost in demand,” said Tahir Rizwan, the director of Homera Tanning. “I think one of the reasons we had this boom was because the West was no longer supplying to them.”

Rizwan said the leather sold to Russian companies was a “particular kind of leather, used only for army shoes and for safety shoes for industries like oil and gas”.

According to import and export data, in the five months between May and October, Homera Tanning exported more than £5m worth of leather boots products to Russia.

Leather is just one of the products that Russian companies have been hoping to acquire from India in the face of western sanctions, with Moscow recently sending a list to India of about 500 goods it was looking to import.

With a growing £16.6bn trade deficit, India is also pushing to export more to Russia. In October, India exported £232m worth of goods to Russia, up 3.7% compared to a year ago, and the Indian foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said it hoped to double trade in the “foreseeable future”.


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