Defying US, India inks arms deal with Russia
and Russia deepened their strategic partnership on 5 September by signing nine pacts, including a multi-billion dollar deal for New Delhi to buy the S-400 Triumf air defence missile system despite warnings from the United States that the move could attract sanctions on India under an American domestic law.
A joint statement issued after talks between visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi confirmed the $5.4 billion deal, though neither leader referred to it in their remarks to reporters.
Another expected defence pact on India acquiring four frigates from Russia was not signed as the two sides were yet to agree on some issues.
Putin arrived in New Delhi on Thursday to a red carpet welcome, on a day when the US, Britain and the Netherlands accused Russia of involvement in a series of cyber plots across the globe, adding to tensions between Moscow and Western nations on a host of issues.
India’s move to acquire the S-400, which has the ability to track multiple incoming targets, including aircraft, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, up to 400km in distance and 30km in altitude, can attract sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Caatsa) passed by the US Congress on arms purchases from Russia.
The US embassy in New Delhi said on Friday that Caatsa was not aimed at stymieing the military capabilities of its “allies or partners”, a statement seen in New Delhi as indicative of a possible waiver coming through from Washing- ton. “Waivers of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Caatsa) section 231 will be considered on a transactionby-transaction basis. We cannot prejudge any sanctions decisions,” the US embassy spokesperson in New Delhi said. “The intent of our implementation of Caatsa is to impose costs on Russia for its malign behaviour, including by stopping the flow of money to Russia’s defence sector,” the embassy said. On the waiver itself, it said: “The waiver authority is not for a blanket waiver. It is transaction-specific. There are strict criteria for considering a waiver.”
Neither Putin nor Modi referred to the US in their remarks to reporters, though people familiar with the developments said that there was a discussion “about all major world powers”.
India and Russia also signed a preliminary pact to build six more nuclear reactors at a new site in the country. Russian state-owned reactor manufacturer Rosatom said the two countries want to build six Russian-design nuclear reactors on a new site in India, boost nuclear cooperation in third countries and are considering building nuclear plants together. Russia would offer to build its third-generation VVER reactor on the new site and would increase the level of participation of Indian companies in the project.
One of the nine pacts signed was in the area of space cooperation with Russia promising support to launch two Indians into space in 2022, which was announced by Modi in his Independence Day speech this year. Russia has also evinced interest in collaboration in the railways and civilian aircraft manufacturing sectors, a person familiar with the development said. India on its part is keen for its pharmaceutical companies to find a foothold in Russian markets, the person said. Both sides have set the target for increasing bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025 from $10.7 billion in 2017-18.
Asit Ranjan Mishra in New Delhi contributed to this story.
Old friends: Russian President Vladimir Putin with PM Narendra Modi. Putin arrived in Delhi to a red carpet welcome, on a day when the US, Britain and the Netherlands accused Russia of involvement in a series of cyber plots across the globe.