India will proceed with the purchase of Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile units despite possible US sanctions, the country’s defense minister has confirmed, citing a “time tested” relationship between Delhi and Moscow.
“In all our engagements with the US, we have clearly explained how India and Russia’s defense cooperation has been going on for a long time and that it is a time tested relationship. We have mentioned that CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act) cannot impact the India-Russia defense cooperation,” Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference.
Her reference to the CAATSA relates to a US federal bill that was implemented in 2017, placing sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. It is possible that the Trump administration could punish Delhi for violating the sanctions placed on Moscow, as Washington has already issued warnings.
Sitharaman added that India has received numerous defense assets from Moscow and that such cooperation would continue with the $5.5-billion S-400 deal. Russia is India’s largest arms supplier, accounting for 62 percent of arms sales to New Delhi over the past five years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Institute.
Meanwhile, India isn’t the only country refusing to back down when it comes to the purchase of S-400 units. Turkey is also going ahead with its purchase of the anti-aircraft systems, despite US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert stating that Washington has “serious concerns about Turkey’s potential acquisition of the systems.” She said that, as a fellow NATO member, the country should only be using NATO-compatible systems.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated Washington’s stance last week, telling the House Foreign Relations Committee that the US is making efforts to “keep the Turks in a place where they will never acquire the S-400.”
The S-400 Triumf is Russia’s most advanced air-defense hardware. It is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defense, and integrates a multi-function radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, missile launchers, and command posts. It can bring down aircrafts and missiles at a range of up to 400km.