India and China are on high alert as tensions over a disputed border escalated this week, when China moved thousands of troops to the border and expanded a nearby military air base. In response, India stationed several battalions in “operational alert areas” along the border.
Satellite imagery published by Indian media company NDTV shows the renovated air base housing Chinese combat aircraft and equipment.
Recent satellite images via @sbreakintl @PlanetLabs
show a large area parallel to the runway at #Ngari Gunsa dual use airbase being rapidly developed since April 2020, as tensions between #India & #China continue to rise pic.twitter.com/1S2XQKHjZS
— d-atis☠️ (@detresfa_) May 23, 2020
The military buildup in the border region of Ladakh comes after two skirmishes took place earlier this month left more than 100 soldiers on both sides injured, according to The Guardian. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with senior military officials Tuesday in order to discuss the appropriate response to China’s military buildup.
The disputed border is located near the Himalayan mountains and has been heavily contested by India and China for decades. The two countries went to war because of the territorial dispute in 1962, and India has also gone to war with Pakistan over the same area. Last year, tensions over the border led to Pakistan shooting down Indian fighter jets that flew over contested airspace.
President Donald Trump entered the fray Wednesday, tweeting that he had informed both India and China of his willingness to mediate the border dispute.
We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
Trump has offered to mediate border disputes in the region before. After tensions rose between India and Pakistan in 2019, the president attempted to provide American assistance to both countries, although at the time Modi rejected third-party involvement. (RELATED: Pakistan To Release Indian Pilot As Nuclear Powers Step Back From The Brink)
As the two nuclear powers face off in one of the most militarized regions in the world, it remains to be seen if either India or China will take the president up on his offer to mediate the “raging border dispute.”