ARMY CHIEF General Bipin Rawat said on Sunday that India follows an independent policy, and has thus signed the deal for S-400 weapon system with Russia despite the threat of US sanctions under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). He also said there was “no end in sight to the manner in which” India and Russia can cooperate.
General Rawat made these remarks during his keynote address at the General K V Krishna Rao inaugural memorial lecture, which was delivered by retired diplomat G Parthasarathy on ‘India’s Security & Foreign Policy Challenges’.
“When Russians asked about the American sanctions, my reply was, ‘yes, we do appreciate that there could be sanctions on us, but we follow an independent policy. You can rest assured. While we may be associating with America in getting some technology, but we follow an independent policy’,” he said.
This was said, as General Rawat recalled, in response to a question posed to him by a Russian naval officer that India seemed to be looking westwards at the US, which has put sanctions on Russia. Washington has also threatened to impose restrictions on New Delhi for dealing with Moscow, the Russian officer pointed out during General Rawat’s recent visit to Russia.
“I further told them, ‘while we are talking sanctions and you are questioning on sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are signing the treaty on the purchase of the S-400 weapon system in spite of the fact that we may face challenges from America in the future and a $5.3 billion deal has been signed between the two countries’,” said the Army Chief.
India and Russia signed the deal on Friday, during Putin’s visit to Delhi. The US State department has reacted strongly to the deal, suggesting that Washington could invoke sanctions against India under CAATSA.
General Rawat returned on Saturday after a six-day visit to Russia, where he met the top brass of the Russian Armed Forces. He said that “Russians are very keen on associating with the Indian Army because we are very capable. We are capable of standing for what is right for us based on our strategic thought process”.
“There is no end in sight to the manner in which we can cooperate with your country. I think the way forward is to see what is best for the nation, strategically important for us,” the Army Chief recalled as having told the Russians during his recent visit.
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“We are also looking forward to getting other weapon systems, space-based systems and technologies to enhance our space capabilities,” General Rawat said, adding that India is “looking forward to getting Kamov helicopters” from Russia.