India has signed USD5.43 billion contract for five S 400 missile systems from Russia
At last! The long-awaited signature has been put on the purchase contract for five S-400 air defense missile systems, despite the warning by the US that such a purchase from Russia could involve sanctions under the US law. The BJP-led government still decided to go ahead with the $5.43-billion deal.
S-400 Triumf air defense missile system (Picture source: Army Recognition)
On this 5 October, India has signed the much-anticipated deal worth $5.43-billion to buy five Russian-made S-400 Triumf air defense missile systems at the 19th India-Russia annual bilateral summit at the Hyderabad House, as reported by Business Today. During a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the leaders discussed regional as well as global issues. The S-400 contract was one of the major topics, of course. Though the United States had warned any such agreement between India and Russia could attract sanctions under the US law, the BJP-led government had still decided to go ahead with the deal.
The United States previously warned countries trading with Russia's defence and intelligence sectors they would face automatic sanctions under a sweeping legislation called Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that President Donald Trump signed into law last August. The law was designed to punish Russia for the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and alleged "meddling" in the 2016 US presidential election. India's purchasing of the Russian weapons system effectively forces the Trump administration to choose between punishing Delhi – and destroy the fledgling defense relationship – or granting the country an exemption, weakening the effect of the sanctions and opening up the US to accusations of favoritism. Speaking to CNN, Peter Layton, from Australia's Griffith Asia Institute, said the problem for the US is that if it allows India to purchase the S-400 there is no reason why it should not also allow other countries, such as Turkey to do so too. "The CAATSA will appear a rather subjective sanction program if it only applies to some nations and not all," said Layton.
Indian Defence Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman had earlier said: "Negotiation on S-400 air defence systems has been on for a long while and it is at a stage where it can be finalised". Though Russia was the major supplier (around 80%) of arms and ammunition to India during the Cold War, Business Today recalls, greater ties with the US shifted the focus towards the West. Now India has imported around $15 billion of arms from the US in the past ten years. However, the improving ties between India and Russia could hit its relation with the US, say experts.
President Putin was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov. Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov said that "The S-400 supply agreement with India is a new landmark in the history of military-technical cooperation between our countries. The deal demonstrates the highest level of trust and understanding between India and Russia. I am sure that this agreement will also be a new impulse for strengthening and deepening our cooperation in civil industry."