India is pushing the Donald Trump administration to execute the certification of the S-400 deal before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India on October 4 and 5, so that New Delhi can go ahead with the signing of the deal without attracting economic sanctions from the United States.
India and Russia are discussing the purchase of S-400 Triumf — NATO calls it SA-21 Growler — which is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.
It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).
A source told The Indian Express, “While the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was passed unanimously by the US Congress, and signed reluctantly by US President Donald Trump, the US Congress has now passed a law granting waiver to some countries. India is one of the intended beneficiaries, but the US President has to personally certify the deal. We want this fairly routine administrative process to be completed before the Russian President’s visit, so that we can sign the deal.”
Sources said the deal is near fruition, and negotiations are at an “advanced stage”. It is now expected to be signed before a summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting Russian President.
CAATSA, if implemented in its stringent form, would have affected India’s defence procurement from Russia. The Russian maker of S-400s – Almaz-Antey Air and Space Defense Corporation JSC – is on the list of 39 Russian entities.
In Moscow, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday said that she and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov have conducted a comprehensive review of the two countries’ relations. “I am satisfied with the outcomes of our meeting. The Commission has met in the run-up to the 19th India-Russia Annual Summit which is expected to be held in India early next month. Both sides are currently working to prepare for this summit,” she said.
Stating that India and Russia enjoy a special and privileged strategic partnership, Swaraj said this partnership has strengthened over time and covers a vast agenda involving almost all spheres of human activity.
In 2017, annual trade between India and Russia was $10.17 billion. “We discussed ways and means to increase this momentum, ensure balanced trade, and remove barriers to trade,” Swaraj said. Two-way investments have already crossed the $30-billion target, which had been set for 2025. “We have therefore proposed that we enhance this figure to $50 billion by 2025,” she said.
Swaraj and Borisov also discussed the possibilities of working together on projects in third countries. Sources said India and Russia are working on projects in Afghanistan.