India, Russia ink $5 billion S-400 defence deal; US says no sanctions on ally
The US said its sanctions were not intended to weaken allies’ military capability but did not confirm if India’s deal for the S-400 missile defence system would get a waiver.Updated: Oct 06, 2018 07:15 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India on Friday hammered out a Rs 39,000-crore deal for five S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems with Russia during the annual summit between the two countries led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President Vlamidir Putin. The deal has been inked despite concerns flagged by the US, which has slapped sanctions on Russia, about the purchase of the missile systems capable of knocking down jets, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles at a range of 400km. New Delhi is seeking a sanctions waiver, given that Russian-origin weaponry is in widespread use in the Indian armed forces.
The two sides “welcomed the conclusion of the contract for the supply of the S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile system to India,” said a detailed joint statement issued after the two leaders met for the 19th edition of the summit.
The US passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act earlier this year, and said countries trading with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors would face automatic sanctions under the sweeping legislation.
State Department spokesperson said this week that the implementation of the sanctions act would be focused at countries acquiring weapons such as the S-400 missile batteries. Last month, the United States imposed sanctions on China’s military for its purchase of combat fighters as well as the S-400 missile system it bought from Russia this year.
After Friday’s landmark deal was signed, the US embassy said the sanctions were aimed at punishing Russia and not to damage the military capabilities of its allies, indicating that India would be spared from the sanctions.
The 68-point India-Russia statement covered cooperation and partnership in the military, energy, space, economy and science and technology spheres.
“India gives top priority to its relations with Russia. In this rapidly changing world our relations have become more relevant,” PM Modi said. The long-awaited S-400 deal further strengthens Russia’s position as the top exporter of weapons to India. Russia accounted for 62% of India’s arms imports during 2013–17. The S-400 deliveries are expected to begin in two years. Indian Air Force chief BS Dhanoa said on Wednesday that the S-400 systems would be a booster dose for the IAF that is grappling with shrinking combat capabilities.
“The sides reaffirmed their commitment to enhance military technical cooperation between India and Russia, which have a long history of mutual trust and mutual benefit. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the significant progress made on the ongoing projects of military technical cooperation and recognized the positive shift towards joint research and joint production of military technical equipment,” the statement said, noting that military and military-technical cooperation between the two countries was an important pillar of their strategic partnership.
The next meeting of the Indian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical cooperation to bolster bilateral ties will be held in December.
The two sides signed eight agreements including an action plan for prioritisation and implementation of cooperation in the nuclear sector and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Federal Space Agency of Russia ROSCOSMOS for cooperation in the human spaceflight programme.
“The next goal in our space journey is to send an Indian astronaut in Gaganyaan. I am very happy that you have assured full cooperation of Russia in this mission,” Modi said. Gaganyaan is an orbital spacecraft that will form the basis of India’s human spaceflight initiative.
Pacts were also inked for cooperation between Indian and Russian railways and for collaboration in the micro, small and medium enterprises sectors.
Stepping up energy cooperation was discussed extensively, including possibilities of collaboration on hydel and renewable energy. “The sides noted the importance of further widening of energy cooperation between India and Russia taking into account the Indian side’s interest in Russian energy assets, including natural gas, as well as in implementation of prospective joint projects in the field of renewable energy sources,” the statement said.
First Published: Oct 05, 2018 23:56 IST