Defence ties with India advancing well, says Russia

Defence ties with India advancing well, says Russia

Kudashev said that neither Russia, nor India, recognised sanctions other than the ones imposed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

Credit: iStock Photo

Moscow on Monday sought to dispel doubt over delivery of the S-400 Triumf missile defence system to India, even as the United States recently imposed sanctions on Turkey for procuring the same military hardware from Russia.

Nikolay Kudashev, Moscow’s envoy to New Delhi, said that Russia’s defence deals with India, including the one for delivery of the S-400 Triumf air defence system, were “advancing well”.

His comment came just days after the US imposed sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on Turkey for the $2.5 billion deal President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Government clinched with Russia for procuring the S-400 Triumf air defence system.

The US move against its NATO-ally Turkey triggered concerns in New Delhi, where many saw in it a not-so-subtle warning to India, which too in October 2018 inked a $ 5.4 billion deal to buy five S-400 Triumf long-range surface-to-air missile systems from Almaz-Antey Corporation of Russia and is expecting the delivery to start in 2021.

The US not only imposed sanctions on Turkey, but also asked “other countries” to take note and avoid acquisition of military hardware from Russia.

Kudashev said that neither Russia, nor India, recognised sanctions other than the ones imposed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

He, however, indicated that Moscow was keenly waiting for Joe Biden, who would succeed Donald Trump as the US President next month, to make public his foreign policy vision.

Roman Babushkin, Moscow’s deputy envoy to New Delhi, said that the US' move to impose CAATSA secondary sanctions on the nations purchasing weapon systems from Russia was nothing but “illegal tool of unfair competition and pressure”.

The US Congress in July 2017 passed the CAATSA to impose sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. Trump signed it into law in August 2017 and its scope was further expanded in October 2017. The Section 231 of the CAATSA mandated secondary sanctions to any nation entering into high-value deals to procure military hardware from Russia.

New Delhi has been discussing with the US, arguing for exemption from the US sanctions mandated by the CAATSA. The Trump administration, however, remained non-committal, underlining that the CAATSA itself had no provision for exemptions for India or any other particular country entering into a defence deal with Russia, and the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, would take calls on imposing sanctions mandated by the 2017 Act or granting exemptions on a case-to-case basis.

Not only the S-400 missile systems, the ongoing military stand-off along the disputed India-China boundary in eastern Ladakh also prompted New Delhi earlier this year to fast-track purchase of MiG-29 and Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft from Russia.

The procurement of the 21 MiG 29s from Russia and upgrading the 59 previously acquired aircraft would cost India approximately Rs 7,418 crore. The 12 Su-30 MKIs would be manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India under license from Sukhoi Aviation JSC of Russia, involving an expenditure of Rs 10,730 crore.

Moscow has also been nudging New Delhi to move fast on the contract for India procuring 770,000 AK-203 rifles manufactured by the Kalashnikov Concern of Russia. While 110,000 rifles will be procured directly from Russia, the rest would be manufactured in India. Besides, New Delhi and Moscow are also close to signing the final contract for manufacturing Russian 140 Ka-226 helicopters in India and bringing in 60 more from Russia.

“If relevant decisions to start works related to Ka-226 helicopters and AK-203 rifles production are expedited, soon we will see good progress, which is especially important due to deep interests expressed by the armed forces of India,” said Russia’s ambassador to India.