India confirms intention to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems

India reaffirmed its intention to acquire the Russian-originated S-400 Triumf (NATO code: SA-21 Growler) air defense systems (ADS), Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference.

India confirms intention to buy Russian S 400 air defense systems
Russian S-400 Triumf (NATO code: SA-21 Growler) air defense systems (ADS) (Picture source: Army Recognition)

According to the official, the negotiations over potential acquisition of the S-400 by India are at the final stage. "The S-400 deal has been on for a very long time, and the negotiations have reached the final stage," Sitharaman said.

The minister also confirmed the intention of New Delhi to develop cooperation with Russia, including that in the military-technical area, despite US pressure and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). "I like to make it clear here that in all our engagements with the United States [of America], we have very clearly explained how Indian-Russian defense cooperation has been going on for a very long time," she said. "We feature time-proven relations, and India has got quite a lot of defence assets from Russia, including hardware, spares and maintenance," Sitharaman added. "We have long-standing cooperation with Russia," the minister concluded.

According to Indian media outlets, the country's Ministry of Defense (MoD) is planning to order five S-400 units worth approximately USD 5.5 billion from Russia. Sitharaman said CAATSA would have no impact on cooperation between Russia and India in the military-technical field. "We have mentioned that CAATSA cannot affect Indian-Russian defense cooperation," she said.

The imposition of sanctions against India under CAATSA seems highly unlikely; however, the act might slightly hamper military-technical cooperation between New Delhi and Moscow. India is expected to discuss the issue during a meeting of Nirmala Sitharaman and head of the Ministry of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, and their US counterparts, James Mattis and Mike Pompeo, which will take place in July in Washington DC.

Nevertheless, the US stance might harm joint US-Indian projects, for instance, the manufacturing of components of the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet. However, one cannot describe military-technical cooperation between Washington and New Delhi as active. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the financial volume of the US arms exports to India in 2016-2017 reached only USD 276 million, while that of Russia exceeded USD 4 billion within the prescribed period.