India is moving ahead with a deal to buy sophisticated air defense systems from Russia. The $5 billion purchase could result in the imposition of sanctions against New Delhi by Washington. The deal was finalized by President Vladimir Putin, who is in India to discuss trade and other key issues.
CGTN’s Shweta Bajaj explains.
It was a meeting between two of the world’s most powerful leaders–Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It happened against a backdrop of tense global geopolitics.
All eyes were on the defense deal between India and Russia, following U.S. threats of sanctions on New Delhi if it went ahead. The warming relationship between Modi and Putin led to what was widely expected – India ordering five Russian S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems and ignoring the U.S. warning.
“Our cooperation goes beyond supplies of Russian weapons between our countries,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We produce jointly and develop modern military products. We maintain regular contacts between our ministries of defense and other details of our countries.”
The defense deal between India and Russia is valued at $5.4 billion. India considers the S-400s critical for its defense capabilities. The system can track up to 300 targets simultaneously and protect large expanses of land, including towns or important areas in a war. The plan is to combine the strength of the S-400 with the Indian Air Force’s own defense network. Under the terms of the deal, the defense systems are to be fully delivered by 2020.
Russia and India have also agreed to work together in space exploration, including on India’s first ever mission to send an astronaut into space in 2022.
“Our new goal, in the sector of space, is to send Indian astronauts into space under the Indian Gaganyaan program,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I was told by Putin that we will get full support from Russia.”
India may still be able to get the U.S. to waive the threatened sanctions. However, when China recently purchased the S-400 anti-missile system from Russia, Washington objected and sanctioned Beijing.
But India is different. The U.S. wants India to be an ally in Asia, and a partner in countering China’s rising power in the region.
Trade was another key topic for discussion, with trade volume between the two countries reaching $10 billion last year. The two leaders have vowed to triple the amount $30 billion by 2025, further drawing the two powers closer together.