India inks deal for S-400 purchase from Russian Federation on Putin's visit

Virginia Santiago
October 7, 2018

China had already acquired the system, and according to news reports, Moscow had already started the delivery of an unspecified number of the S-400 missile systems to Beijing.

President Putin will approve a $5 billion deal to supply India with S-400 surface-to-air missiles at a meeting with Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, in Delhi tomorrow.

The bilateral talks between the two leaders are going on. China signed a deal with Russian Federation in 2015 to buy six battalions of this missile system.

"This would reinforce the continued strength of a Russia-India partnership even amid a growing US-India relationship", said Michael Kugelman from the Wilson Centre in Washington.

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Besides, in the third defence deal, India will be purchasing 200 light utility Ka-226 helicopters for $1 billion (Rs 737.85 crore at current price).

India has requested that the United States grant it a waiver for the deal from sanctions prescribed by a USA law passed in August 2017 that is meant to punish Russian Federation for its annexation of Crimea and alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Russian Federation also agreed to assist India with training for its Gaganyaan project to put a human in space by 2022.

But the U.S. considers India a strategic ally and therefore a waiver may be issued. "Russia has always been with us in the development journey of India". The intent of the U.S. sanctions law is "to impose costs on Russian Federation for its malign behavior", not to "impose damage to the military capabilities of our allies or partners", according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

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Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugged as they went into talks in the Indian capital, underlying the apparent warm rapport that the two strongmen leaders have built up in recent years.

However, Washington is in a hard position when it comes to New Delhi, seeking to bolster ties with India to counter China´s growing assertiveness while maintaining pressure on Russian Federation. Between 2013 and 2017, Russian Federation accounted for 62 percent of India's arms imports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The two countries also signed eight agreements covering space, nuclear energy and railways at a televised news conference.

The S-400 missile deal has been an issue of much speculation after US President Donald Trump's administration's law - Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) - came into effect in January.

India and China had a stand-off over a Himalayan plateau previous year after it was claimed by both Beijing and Indian ally Bhutan.

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President Putin said the two countries have agreed to step up cooperation in combating the menace of terrorism and drug trafficking. "If you let the Americans make the arms procurement decisions for you once, it will happen again and again".

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