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Important Indo-Russia Deal 2018 : In Detail
Despite the looming threat of US financial sanctions, India on Friday inked $5.43 billion (Rs 40,000 crore) deal for five advanced S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile squadrons with Russia. The S-400 deal has been at the centre of the ongoing visit of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to India.
The $5.43 billion (over Rs 40,000 crore) deal is among India’s largest defence deals ever made. Here is all you need to know about the anticipated S-400 defence deal between India and Russia.
Modi and Putin also signed eight pacts, including on cooperation on India’s ambitious human space mission project Gaganyaan, at the 19th India-Russia annual bilateral summit. The signing of defence deal between the two countries comes amid the US warning.
India Signs Up For Russia S-400 Missile System
India will finally acquire the S-400 Triumf, the world’s most lethal surface-to-air missile system, from Russia amid a threat of sanctions from the US. The deal was signed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin this afternoon. Mr Putin is in India on a two-day visit; he arrived in the national capital on Thursday. The US has hinted at tough sanctions against any nation that buys advanced military hardware from Russia. Russia has been an important supplier of defence hardware to India for decades. “Russia has stood by India through time and has played a crucial role In India’s growth story,” PM Modi said in a joint address after the bilateral meeting with Mr Putin.
- “In this fast-changing world, our ties have grown at a fast pace. With time, the relations between our countries have gone from strength to strength,” PM Modi said in a joint statement with Mr Putin.
- “We have agreed to step up cooperation with India in combating the menace of terrorism and drug trafficking,” said Mr Putin, who is being accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov.
- The S-400 is one of the world’s most advanced long-range air defence systems. China was the first nation to buy the S-400 missile system in 2014. Russia has already started deliveries of an undisclosed number of the S-400 missile system to Beijing.
- New Delhi had already indicated that it will go ahead with the S-400 deal notwithstanding the US sanctions. “As and when the government approves it, delivery (of the missiles) will be in 24 months,” Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa has told reporters.
- Under a new law — Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act or CAATSA — the US imposes sanctions on any country that has “significant transactions” with Iran, North Korea or Russia.
- India and Russia also signed several agreements in space, nuclear energy and railways. The two leaders reportedly discussed key regional and global issues, including US sanctions on import of Iranian crude oil.
- The two countries agreed to cooperate in order to implement new nuclear power projects (NPPs). The pact is expected to be a big boost for the Make in India initiative as it will lead to manufacturing of nuclear fuel assemblies in India.
- India is planning to acquire 4 Krivak-class frigates from Russia, two of which will be built in India. Under the $2.5 billion deal, two ships will be built at the Goa shipyard and two others will be acquired from Russia. India already operates six similar frigates.
- Russia is one of only two countries with which India holds annual bilateral summits, the other being Japan.
- This is the third meeting between PM Modi and Mr Putin this year after the informal meeting in the Russian resort city of Sochi in May and a bilateral on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa.
In the words of Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa, S-400 would be like a “booster shot” in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) arm.
India needs to be well-equipped against neighboring threats. Pakistan has over 20 fighter squadrons, with upgraded F-16s, and inducting J-17 from China in large numbers. China has 1,700 fighters, including 800 4-Gen fighters.
Whereas, a shortfall of over fighter squadrons has severely affected IAF’s efforts to pose a challenge to the enemies.
“No country is facing the kind of grave threat that India is confronted with. Intentions of our adversaries can change overnight. We need to match force level of our adversaries,” IAF Chief Dhanoa said at a press conference this week.
An increasingly-assertive US has been punishing countries doing ‘significant’ deals with Iran or Russia with sanctions. Going ahead with the ‘significant’ defence deals will also be a message about India’s ‘strategic autonomy’ despite its dependence on both US and Russia.
What is stopping India from making the deal
The threat that the United States of America might exercise sanctions on India for trading with Russia.
The US administration is required under a domestic law, Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act or CAATSA to impose sanctions on any country that has “significant transactions” with Iran, North Korea or Russia.
The Act primarily deals with sanctions on Russian interests such as its oil and gas industry, defence and security sector, and financial institutions, in the backdrop of its military intervention in Ukraine and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US Presidential elections.
In September, a senior administration official told reporters that purchase of major military system like multi-billion S-400 missile defense system would be considered as a “significant transaction and thus has a potential” for CAATSA sanctions.
Which countries have it ?
China was the first foreign buyer to seal a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014 to procure the lethal missile system and Moscow has already started delivery of an undisclosed number of the S-400 missile systems to Beijing.
Last year Moscow signed a contract to sell the systems to Turkey, raising criticism from Ankara’s NATO allies, notably Washington, which has threatened to block delivery of its F-35 stealth aircraft to Turkey.
The Russian S-400 Triumf advanced air defence system became a bone of contention between India and the US, particularly after the latter brought in a new law on August 2, 2017, called ”Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’ or CAATSA. This, among other things, imposed new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea. This limited India’s ability to purchase arms and ammunition from Russia since such an act would be tantamount to inviting sanctions from the US. It also forces India to use a currency apart from the US dollar to set the exchange rate between the rouble and the rupee. India was previously honouring its payments for defence contracts with the US dollar.The the S-400 Triumf is an advanced surface-to-air missile system, developed by Russia’s state-owned company Almaz-Antey, and can shoot down hostile aircraft and ballistic missiles. It has an estimated range of 250 kilometres and a possible upgrade is speculated to extend it to 400 kilometres.
The S-400 battery has four transporter erector launchers (TEL) which are essentially missile vehicles that can carry and launch missiles. There are four launch tubes in each TEL. The system also includes a fire control radar and a command post. This enables it to fire surface-to-air missiles and eliminate incoming missile or adversary, thus creating an air defence shield.
The S-400 is not merely military equipment for Russia but a tool for geopolitical strategy. The Russians, despite the sanctions on Almaz-Antey, are actively offering it to a number of countries, including NATO members such as Turkey, which has signed a provisional agreement to purchase it in December, despite US warnings. China has reportedly already acquired the first set of S-400 system including the command post, radar stations and launching stations. The S-400 may also be purchased by countries such as Algeria, Belarus, Iran and Vietnam, thus reducing the American sphere of influence.The other reason US is up in arms against the S-400 is the missile defence system’s reported ability to take down American stealth fighter jets including the F-35. If Turkey were to acquire the S-400 along with the American F-35 (which it has already ordered from the US), then the exact nature of the F-35’s weakness would be apparent to them. Such information could also eventually find its way to Russia.