Russia has begun the deliveries of its long-range S-400 missile defence system — which has prompted threats of US sanction — to India, said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday. “Supplies have begun this month and will continue to happen,” Shringla said after a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi.
PM Narendra Modi met Putin in the evening, and during the meet, the prime minister said that the friendship between the two nations has been constant despite several challenges. He also said that the two countries have cooperated strongly during the pandemic — from vaccine trials and production to assistance to returning nationals to respective nations.
On the Modi-Putin meet, Shringla said, “The fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to visit India for our annual summit is an indication of the importance he attaches to the bilateral relationship and his personal rapport with PM Narendra Modi.” Shedding more light on the meeting between the two leaders, Shringla said there “were excellent discussions”, leading to the signing of 28 agreements and MoUs. “These agreements include those between government to government and business to business,” he added.
Shringla further said that enhancing bilateral trade and investment figured prominently in the talks between the two leaders. “This year, we’ve noticed an encouraging trend of growth in our trades compared to last year. Both sides are looking forward to the continued increase in trade and investment trajectory,” he added.
The foreign secretary also said that India has expressed opening trade and investment avenues with Russia, including “long-term corporation in the areas of inland waterways, fertilizers, coking coal, steel, skilled manpower”. “Coking coal emerged as an important area of cooperation,” said Shringla.
On CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), Shringla said the matter didn’t come up at the meeting. CAATSA is a tough US law, which authorises the administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. Following US sanctions on Turkey over the procurement of S-400 missile systems, there have been apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures on India.
Last month, a US State Department spokesperson had said that the Joe Biden administration wants “all of our allies, partners” to forgo transactions with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under CAATSA. The spokesperson added that the CAATSA does not have a blanket or country-specific waiver provision.
The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system. It is capable of simultaneously tracking numerous incoming objects including aircraft, missiles and UAVs in a radius of a few hundred kilometres and launching appropriate missiles to neutralise them.