In what is being seen as a snub to the US, India has made it clear that it will go ahead with the Rs 39,000-crore deal with Russia for the S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for the IAF despite US sanctions hanging like a Damocles sword over its head.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the negotiations between India and Russia to finalise the S-400 deal was already in the final stage and won’t be hampered by US’ CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), which seeks to deter countries from buying Russian weapon systems.
“In all our engagements with the US, we have clearly explained how India and Russia’s defence cooperation has been going on for a long time and that it is a time-tested relationship. We have mentioned that CAATSA cannot impact the India-Russia defence cooperation,” Sitharaman said.
She said India had made it clear in all its engagements with the US that its ties with Russia were independent of external influences and relationships with other countries. The deal for the S-400 system, which can counter ballistic missiles and stealth aircraft like those China is developing, is likely to be announced before an annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in October.
Top American lawmakers and experts have warned that imposition of sanctions on India under CAATSA if it bought the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia could be disastrous for Indo-US ties. Last month, US’ House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry had warned that the S-400 deal might limit inter-operability between Indian and US militaries.
Sources said India wanted its defence transactions with Russia to be insulated from the purview of the stringent American law and the issue would be taken up with Washington during the 2+2 talks next month.