India signs $5.43 billion S-400 missile deal with Russia

India signs $5.43 billion S-400 missile deal with Russia

India and Russia signed a $5.43 billion deal for five S-400 missile system on Friday during a summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While India has a long history of signing big ticket defence contracts with Russia, this deal comes at a time of increased friction between the United States and Russia, Washington’s strong objections to the agreement and New Delhi’s own deepening defence cooperation with Washington.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin“The S-400 deal was signed today at 1100 hrs by the Joint Secretary Land Systems from India and the Director General, Rosoboronexport of Russia,” a top government source said. The deliveries will begin in 24 months, which is end 2020.

The U.S. has warned that the deal, signed during a summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi, could attract sanctions.

The U.S. has warned that the deal could attract sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that restricts defence purchases from Russia, Iran and North Korea. It has to be seen if the U.S. would grant a waiver to India in this case.

Few other defence deals are also expected to be concluded, which will be announced during the joint statement after the talks.

Modi, Putin hold restricted meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a restricted meeting ahead of delegation-level talks of the annual bilateral summit. Modi received Putin at the Hyderabad House here and the two leaders warmly shook hands and hugged each other obliging cameramen.

Putin arrived here on Thursday evening for the 19th India-Russia Bilateral Summit and held a private meeting with Modi at the latter’s residence at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj received Putin at the airport here.

Around 20 agreements are expected to be signed between the two sides following the summit on Friday. This includes India’s purchase of the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia at a cost of more than Rs 40,000 crore.

The deal has been an issue of much speculation after US President Donald Trump’s administration’s law — Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) — came into effect in January. CAATSA targets countries doing business with Russian, Iranian and North Korean defence companies.

Also expected to come up for discussion is Washington’s fresh sanctions on Iran over the country’s nuclear programme. New Delhi is worried over the new sanctions, set to come into effect on November 4, as Iran is a major supplier of oil to India.

The sanctions have also put into jeopardy the Chabahar Port in Iran being jointly developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan. Chabahar is a crucial link in the International North South Transport Corridor of which Russia is a key party.

Russia is one of only two countries with which India holds annual bilateral summits, the other being Japan. The India-Russia bilateral relationship was elevated to Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership in 2010.

This is the third meeting between Modi and Putin this year after an 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 July.