Defence deal with Russia to be finalised soon: govt
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.