Thursday, 18 October, 2018

US, Chinese unease as Putin seeks India arms deals

Alexander Avilov  Moskva News Agency Alexander Avilov Moskva News Agency
Lisa Bryan | 07 October, 2018, 00:48

Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi exchanged hugs as India signed a $5bn (£3.8bn) deal to buy a Russian air defence system, despite the threat of sanctions being slapped on New Delhi.

India has signed more than $15 billion in United States defence contracts since 2008, including for C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, Harpoon missiles and Ap ache and Chinook helicopters.

Washington has warned that the purchase of the air defense system would be a "significant transaction" violating a USA law passed a year ago under which countries trading with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors face the threat of sanctions. India is much too important and a huge defence market for U.S. to let go off over one deal is how this former Indian diplomat puts it. The US is now India´s second biggest arms supplier. America's threat of sanctions, however, did impact the progress of negotiations between India and Russian Federation. He further said that India and Russian Federation are committed to cooperating in the fight against terrorism. The Times of India quoted Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa as saying that this purchase would serve as a "booster shot" for the Indian Air Force.

If the US does impose sanctions on India, it is unclear how India could pay Russian Federation for the military equipment, since the law bars dollar-denominated financial transactions. He arrived in New Delhi on Thursday.

CAATSA, which came into effect in January 2018, is aimed at punishing Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential elections and mandates the imposition of economic sanctions on countries importing Russian military hardware.


The eight agreements that were signed on Friday spanned diverse areas ranging from space and nuclear cooperation to railways and agriculture.

On Friday, apart from the bilateral talks, the two leaders will address the India-Russia Business forum and interact with a group of 20 students (10 Russian and 10 Indian) from India's Atal Innovation Mission and Russia's Creative School, SIRIUS. The S-400 is Russia's most advanced long-range, surface-to-air missile system and can take down enemy aircraft from the ground.

India had already given indications that it will go ahead with the deal notwithstanding the U.S. sanctions. For all the warm words, ties with Moscow are a lot less central to Delhi than they were during the Cold War years, as India has diversified arms purchases, closing $15 billion of deals with the United States over the last decade.

Deputy Director of the Asia Programme and South Asia senior associate, The Wilson Centre, Michael Kugelman tells OneIndia that Putin visit itself will not affect US-India ties in a big way.

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