India quietly seals missile deal with Russia despite US warning

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President Vladimir Putin holds meeting with Government members

07 October, 2018

India's acquisition of the S-400 long-range missile systems has been considered critical to countering a perceived threat from China, which is increasingly making economic inroads throughout South Asia, India's traditional sphere of influence, according to military experts.

Ignoring the American sanction on purchase of arms from Russia, India is likely to sign a deal today for the procurement of S-400 Triumf air defence systems.

Putin said that Russian Federation places a top priority on its India relationship and the two countries had concurrent positions on key global issues.

China has already been affected by the sanctions for buying weapons from Russian Federation, including the S-400.

The deal, envisages supplying five regiments of the S-400s to New Delhi, was signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to India. However, the improving ties between India and Russian Federation could hit its relation with the U.S., say experts. India is much too important and a huge defence market for U.S. to let go off over one deal is how this former Indian diplomat puts it. It fulfills a certain defence requirement for India and the government has taken the decision in the national interest, " the source said.

India therefore could expect to gain a sympathetic ear if it seeks a waiver from the United States sanctions, but President Donald Trump's administration has signalled this is unlikely. In recent years, the USA has also become a significant source, with purchases adding up to $15 billion over the past decade. "We can not prejudge any sanctions decisions".

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Earlier this week, the US warned India against buying weapons from Russian Federation, with a US State Department official urging "all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russian Federation that would trigger sanctions under the CAATSA".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday invited Russian Federation to set up a dedicated defence industrial park in India as he looked to expand ties with New Delhi's traditional ally.

The contract is estimated to be worth more than $5 billion and gives the Indian military the ability to shoot down aircraft and missiles at unprecedented ranges.

New Delhi, which does not want to jeopardize its growing ties with Washington, is optimistic about avoiding US sanctions.

The bill was introduced a month after Putin was sworn in for his fourth presidential term, which may be his last because the constitution bars him from running again in 2024. The two countries also signed eight agreements covering space, nuclear energy and railways at a televised news conference.

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.

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