Russia says it will deliver S-400 systems in 5 years
Russia will deliver the five S-400 air defence systems ordered by India under a $5.4-billion deal by 2025 and the two sides are creating a comprehensive system of payments insulated from US sanctions, Russian diplomats said on Friday.
At a briefing at the Russian embassy, ambassador Nikolay Kudashev described New Delhi’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir as an internal matter, and said the Kashmir issue should be handled bilaterally by India and Pakistan instead of being taken up at the UN Security Council.
Roman Babushkin, the deputy chief of mission, said production of the S-400 systems for India has started. “We are expecting the deliveries to be completed by 2025,” he said.
India’s armed forces will soon receive the first batch of 5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles made in India, and the two sides are close to signing a contract for 200 Kamov Ka-226 helicopters, under which 60 will be supplied by Russia and the rest made in India, Babushkin added.
As reported by HT, India last year made the first payment of $850 million for the S-400 systems through a special mechanism aimed at averting sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of the US.
A senior US State Department official said on January 8 that India won’t receive a blanket waiver for the S-400 deal signed in 2018. Under CAATSA, countries making purchases worth more than $15 million from Russia’s state-owned defence firm could be subject to sanctions, though the US president has the authority to issue a waiver.
Kudashev described the system created by Russia and India to protect deals from US sanctions as a “work in progress”. The sanctions triggered by payments have complicated trade and investment, he said.
“[The two sides] are developing inter-bank cooperation, and enhancing and strengthening the position of national currencies in their trade and investment cooperation. They are developing and testing the means of payments that are an alternative to the SWIFT system, which became one of the instruments for sanctions,” he said.
The two sides are considering other ways to “clear the way for growing cooperation in many spheres, be it military, energy and space”, he added.
Asked about China’s move to discuss the Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council, Kudashev said: “We’ve never been in favour of bringing this issue into the UN agenda because, in our take, this is strictly a bilateral matter for India and Pakistan to discuss on the basis of the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration. This is our continuous position and it’s well known.”
Replying to another question on whether he wished to visit Kashmir to assess the ground situation, Kudashev said he hadn’t joined other envoys on a recent trip to the region as he hadn’t been invited.
“Quite frankly, I do not feel there is a reason for me to travel [to Kashmir]. Your decisions, as far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, this is your internal matter, belonging to the constitutional space of India,” he said.
Kudashev echoed Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s criticism of the US-backed concept of the Indo-Pacific, saying it was divisive and omitted China and Russia. He acknowledged India’s position on the Indo-Pacific wasn’t aimed at containing anybody.
“I would say quite frankly that we expressed to India, time and again, our concern about the American strategies [and] the Quad. As far as I understand, our concerns are taken into consideration and our dialogue on these issues is continuing,” he said.
Kudashev also said external affairs minister S Jaishankar will visit Russia from March 22-23 to attend a meeting of the Russia-Indian-China trilateral.