De­fence deal with Rus­sia to be fi­nalised soon: govt

Gulf Times - - INDIA -

De­fence Min­is­ter Nirmala Sithara­man yes­ter­day said In­dia would go ahead with the pro­posed pur­chase of five Rus­sian-made S-400 Tri­umf ad­vanced air de­fence sys­tems de­spite US sanc­tions against Moscow red-flag­ging the deal for which an agree­ment is al­most ready.

She didn’t give a spe­cific time for con­clud­ing the $5.5bn mil­i­tary deal for the Tri­umf in­ter­cep­tor­based mis­sile sys­tem – billed as a game-changer for In­dia’s abil­ity to counter bal­lis­tic mis­siles and stealth air­craft like those China is de­vel­op­ing.

“It is al­most at the con­clu­sive stage. It will hap­pen soon. But when it is go­ing to be fi­nalised, I can’t say,” Sithara­man told re­porters about the much-awaited pro­cure­ment of the long-range sur­face-to-air mis­sile de­fence sys­tem.

Asked if the US sanc­tions tar­get­ing

Rus­sia for its pur­ported in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion process would im­pact In­dia’s mil­i­tary pur­chases, the de­fence min­is­ter said the Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries Through Sanc­tions Act (CAATSA) was an Amer­i­can and not a UN law.

“Of course, it does not ap­ply to In­dia,” she said, re­ply­ing to a ques­tion. “It is not ei­ther or for In­dia be­tween the US and Rus­sia.”

“Our de­fence re­la­tion with Rus­sia has en­dured sev­eral decades and we have con­veyed this to a US Con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion which vis­ited In­dia re­cently.” She said In­dia had made it clear to the US that de­fence co-op­er­a­tion with Rus­sia was a time-tested re­la­tion­ship.

The US has openly ex­pressed con­cern re­gard­ing the S-400 mis­sile sys­tem be­ing ac­quired by any of the Amer­i­can part­ners, in­clud­ing In­dia.

US Con­gress­men, Repub­li­can Mac Thorn­berry, chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices, who was in In­dia in May, said if New Delhi went ahead with the pur­chase, it would com­pli­cate “our abil­ity to work out in­ter-op­er­abil­ity” at a time when the US had is­sued sanc­tions against Rus­sian oli­garchs and com­pa­nies. Th­ese in­clude Rosoboronex­port, the state-owned Rus­sian weapons trad­ing com­pany.

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