India-Russia S-400 missile deal to go ahead irrespective of US threat
A year after Russia said that it was preparing to supply S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems to India and that Moscow and New Delhi were discussing the terms, India cleared that it would go ahead with the Rs 39,000-crore deal with Russia for the military hardware for its air force despite American sanctions looming large.
On Tuesday, June 5, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the negotiations between India and Russia to finalise the deal was in the concluding stage and will not be affected by America's CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) which is aimed at Washington's three foes of Russia, Iran and North Korea.
Sitharaman said India has explained to the US its time-tested defence cooperation with Russia and added that the CAATSA could not affect New Delhi's relations with Moscow.
India is eyeing the long-range missiles to improve its air defence, especially along its border with China, PTI reported. The missiles can counter ballistic missiles and stealth aircraft like those that are being developed by the Chinese.
Official sources also confirmed that India and Russia are expected to announce the deal ahead of an annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in October this year.
Top US lawmakers have warned that India's relations with the US could be adversely affected by CAATSA if it bought the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia. However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had in May urged the American Congress to provide a necessary waiver to ensure that the sanctions on Russian under CAATSA did not hurt US's ally nations like India.
Sources also said that India sought to insulate its defence ties with Russia to be left out of the purview of the strict American law and the issue would be taken up with Washington during the 2+2 talks in early July between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries, PTI added.