India, Russia ink S-400 missile systems deal defying US sanctions

India signed a $5.43 billion deal to purchase five advanced S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems, above, (Photo Credit: Sputnik) from Russia to boost its air defence shield against its neigbours ignoring looming threat of financial sanctions from the US.

The deal was finalised after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi on Friday.

The delivery of the S-400 Triumf squadrons will begin in October 2020. S-400 can help India defend against different kinds of supersonic and hypersonic missiles. China has already bought S-400 systems.

With the signing of the S-400 deal, India may face US sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act or CAATSA which targets countries that purchase arms from Russia. China faced similar sanctions.

But while China is an emerging rival power, US sees India as an important strategic ally. In a guarded statement, the US embassy in New Delhi said its intent to slap sanctions against Russia was not aimed at imposing damage to the military capabilities of its “allies or partners”, PTI reported.

India and the US are concerned over Chinese military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region. Hence a potential sanction is more a headache for Washington than New Delhi.

Besides S-400 deal, India and Russia signed seven other pacts including those in the fields of transport, space, nuclear power and small and medium-sized enterprises.

India is planning a manned mission to moon by 2022. Russia would help the country in developing its space programme including giving training to astronauts.

Modi said the latest deals would take Indo-Russian cooperation to new levels.

Putin and his team met Indian President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapathi Bhavan before returning to Russia.