S-400 deal with Rus­sia in the fi­nal stage: De­fence Min­is­ter

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - Rahul Singh

NEW DELHI: De­fence min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man on Fri­day said that the deal for S-400 Tri­umf air de­fence mis­sile sys­tems with Rus­sia was “at an al­most con­clu­sive stage” and the US sanc­tions leg­is­la­tion won’t af­fect it, brush­ing aside Wash­ing­ton’s con­cerns about the ~39,000-crore pur­chase.

“We have ex­plained to the US that we have had a con­tin­u­ous re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia for de­fence pre­pared­ness for decades…also CAATSA is a US leg­is­la­tion and not a United Na­tions one,” Sithara­man said in an in­ter­ac­tion with re­porters in South Block.

The US passed the Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries through Sanc­tions Act ear­lier this year.

As New Delhi finds it­self do­ing a bal­anc­ing act be­tween the US and Rus­sia, the min­is­ter said is­sues re­lated to CAATSA could be on the agenda of the up­com­ing 2+2 di­a­logue be­tween the de­fence and for­eign min­is­ters of In­dia and the US in early Septem­ber.

“S-400 ne­go­ti­a­tions have hap­pened over the years. Of course, it has reached a con­clu­sive stage now,” said Sithara­man, adding that the project was likely to be ex­e­cuted in two and a half years to four years.

In­dia has taken a firm stand on the S-400 pur­chase, de­spite the US flag­ging con­cerns about the deal com­pli­cat­ing in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­tween In­dian and Amer­i­can forces.

In­dia and Rus­sia are likely to ham­mer out the deal for five S-400 sys­tems in Oc­to­ber when Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Pres­i­dent Vlamidir Putin meet in New Delhi for an an­nual sum­mit. The S-400 is ca­pa­ble of de­stroy­ing jets, mis­siles and un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles at a range of 400km.

As re­ported by HT on July 6, army chief Gen­eral Bipin Rawat said it was crit­i­cal for In­dia to find ways to by­pass US sanc­tions against Rus­sia, given that Rus­sian-ori­gin weaponry is in wide­spread use in the In­dian mil­i­tary.

Rus­sia ac­counted for 62% of In­dia’s arms im­ports dur­ing 2013–17, ac­cord­ing to re­port re­leased by Stock­holm In­ter­na­tional Peace Re­search In­sti­tute (SIPRI) in March.

Re­spond­ing to a query on a key de­fence agree­ment that US wants to ink with In­dia, Sithara­man in­di­cated that the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pat­i­bil­ity and Se­cu­rity Agree­ment (Comcasa) was un­likely to be signed dur­ing the 2+2 talks as both sides have not reached “fi­nal po­si­tions.”

Its sign­ing would facilitate the re­lease of com­mu­ni­ca­tion se­cu­rity ser­vices and equip­ment to In­dia, paving the way for shar­ing mil­i­tary in­for­ma­tion and data.

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