Russia on Wednesday said it has delivered its most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system S-400 to India on time despite pressure from Washington and the US-led West’s sanctions, asserting that Moscow and New Delhi are firmly committed to their national interests.
Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov made the remarks ahead of a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan this week where the two leaders are expected to discuss issues of strategic stability, the situation in the Asia Pacific region and bilateral cooperation within the UN and G20.
“Despite American pressure, India intends to unwaveringly stick to its national interests, especially when it comes to issues of building up the country’s defensive capabilities. Therefore, we assume that the intergovernmental agreements, in particular regarding the supply of the S-400 systems here, will be implemented,” he said.
“Both we and our Indian partners are interested in seeing the respective commitments, including the deadlines, fulfilled,” Alipov told state-owned TASS news agency.
The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system. The ‘Triumf’ interceptor-based missile system can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km.
Russia had started delivery of the first regiment of the missile in December last year.
The missile system has already been deployed in such a way that it can cover parts of the border with China in the northern sector as well as the frontier with Pakistan.
In October 2018, India had signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, notwithstanding warning from the then Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may trigger US sanctions under CAATSA.
Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA is a tough US law which authorizes the administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.
Russia has been a major supplier of military hardware to India. The two countries have been holding discussions on what kind of payment mechanisms can work between them in view of the western sanctions on Moscow.
Alipov stressed that the level of partnership and mutual trust achieved by the two countries, makes it possible to discuss extremely promising trajectories for joint ventures. A program of military-technical cooperation for the next decade was approved at the landmark summit in December 2021, which envisages advancing the dialogue on a number of major projects.
“We hope that it will be successfully put into practice. Russia has been and remains India’s priority partner in the defence sector,” he stressed.
Alipov also said that military-technical cooperation between Russia and India is steadily developing in accordance with the new requirements.
“Our cooperation in this area is steadily progressing in accordance with the new requirements,” he said. “We see in them many opportunities for expanding the practice of joint production and advanced research and development.” Alipov said the two sides had already begun to talk about this substantively at the 2019 summit in Vladivostok, when an intergovernmental agreement was signed on the joint production of spare parts and components and maintenance of military equipment of domestic origin, including with the prospect of providing such services to the markets of third countries.
He said that the distinctive features of Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation include mutual readiness to take into account each other’s interests, as well as a high degree of adaptability to changing conditions.
“It’s a truly time-tested partnership,” he said, asserting that Russia is the only country that is ready to share advanced technologies with India.
He said the two countries had joint ventures and agreements on the localisation of production long before India adopted a state policy to achieve self-sufficiency of its military-industrial complex through cooperation with other nations.
“We are talking about the assembly of T-90 tanks, Su-30MKI fighter jets and other areas. Moreover, one of our most successful joint ventures for the production of BrahMos supersonic missiles is confidently entering the markets of third countries,” he said, adding that Russia is also helping Indian friends to follow a course of boosting exports of defence products.