India concludes deal with Russia on missile system

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said the S-400 Triumf air defence missile deal with Russia will go ahead notwithstanding the US sanctions on military transactions with Moscow. PTI file photo

Shrugging off US pressure, India moves closer to buy S-400 Triumf anti-ballistic missile system from Russia to protect the big metros with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman making it clear on Friday that negotiations on the deal reached a conclusive stage.

“Negotiations (with the Russians) happened over the years. Now it reached a conclusive stage,” Nirmala said at an interaction with journalists ahead of the Parliament's session.

The Defence Acquisition Council in December 2015 approved the plan to procure five of these air defence missiles, pruning down a previous proposal of procuring 10 systems. Each of the S-400 systems would comprise six launchers, and each launcher would carry three missiles.

Asked about the US objection on the Indo-Russian deal, she said, “The US law (CAATSA) won't affect us. If there are objections on technical issues, we are ready to explain.”

Last year the US Senate passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) imposing sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea without the provision of waiver sought by President Donald Trump’s administration.

The Section 231 of the CAATSA mandated secondary sanctions to any nation entering into high-value deals to procure military hardware from Russia. The proposed India-Russia S-400 deal is estimated to be worth about $5.5 billion or approximately Rs 39,000 crore.

Along with several other countries, India too sought the waiver from the provisions of the act

“We have an enduring relationship with Russia, which will continue. We are not seeing it (US advice against the deal) as an issue to choose between USA and Russia. With Russia, we have a continuous relationship in defence procurement. The same was conveyed to the US Congressional delegation that visited us,” she said.

The minister remained evasive when asked if the S-400 deal may be inked during the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin later this year. But once the deal is signed it would take 2.5-4 years to execute the contract.

New Delhi also resisted the US pressure to sign an intrusive defence treaty named Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement that would give US inspectors access to Indian bases to examine some of the US-origin equipment.

When asked whether the pact would be signed during the 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of India and USA, Nirmala said, “Final position on COMCASA has not arrived at.” Washington asked India to sign the pact as a precondition to hand over critical military equipment like armed unmanned aerial vehicles.

The 2+2 dialogue that was postponed twice is now scheduled to be held in the first week of September.

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India concludes deal with Russia on missile system

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