In a key improvement to Indian capabilities to counter enemy fighter aircraft and cruise missiles at long range, Russia has started supplying the S-400 Triumf air defence missile system to India. According to an ANI report, “Russia has started supplying S-400 air defense system to India,” said the Director of Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), Dmitry Shugaev, during an air show in Dubai.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to visit India next month for a bilateral summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that is expected to produce tangible outcomes in further expanding ties in areas of defence, trade and energy. Both India and Russia have a mechanism under which India’s prime minister and the Russian president hold a summit meeting annually to review the entire gamut of ties between the two nations. So far, 20 annual summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia.
Russia has been a time-tested partner for India and the country has been a key pillar of New Delhi’s foreign policy. In October 2018, India had signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, despite a warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.
India made the first tranche of payment of around USD 800 million to Russia for the missile systems in 2019. The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system. Following US sanctions on Turkey, there have been apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures on India.
A framework for military-technical cooperation is set to be renewed for the next decade at the summit besides announcing a joint commission on technology and science. India and Russia have also reached the final phase of negotiation for a logistics support agreement and it is likely to be signed either during the two-plus-two talks or at the summit. The pact will allow militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation. The unfolding humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and implications of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul for regional security are expected to figure prominently at the summit.
(With Inputs From Wires)