Russia will attempt to comply with any Indian request to expedite the delivery of five S-400 air defence systems, with the first batch scheduled to be handed over to New Delhi by the end of 2021, a Russian diplomat said on Thursday.
The two countries are also close to finalising a deal for Ka-226 multi-purpose helicopters that will ensure the highest possible amount of localisation of components in line with the Make in India and AatmaNirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiatives, Russia’s deputy chief of mission Roman Babushkin said.
The $5.4-billion deal for the S-400 air defence systems is being implemented according to schedule and the first batch will reach India by the end of next year. “If there is a request from the Indian side to expedite [the] S-400 [delivery], we will be ready to do our best to satisfy this requirement,” Babushkin said.
The India-China border standoff has spurred calls from some quarters for seeking the expedited delivery of the air defence systems despite the possibility of US sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). India made the first payment of $850 million for the S-400s last year and New Delhi and Moscow have worked out a comprehensive system to insulate payments from US sanctions.
Babushkin said India and Russia are very close to finalising the deal for supplying 200 Kamov Ka-226 helicopters, 140 of which will be produced in India with “maximum possible level of localisation”. The $2-billion deal is “at the final stages of consideration”, he added.
The two sides are also negotiating the contract for the production of more than 700,000 Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles by a joint venture and advanced cooperation on the Su-30MKI jets, T-90 main battle tanks, frigates, submarines and missiles. Russia will have a large presence at the Aero India 2021 expo in Bengaluru and is also working towards the early implementation of an agreement on joint production of spare parts for Russian-origin military harware.
Besides partnering India to supply military systems such as the BrahMos cruise missile to third countries, Russia is working on a mutual logistics support agreement and on strengthening maritime cooperation, including in the Indian Ocean, Babushkin said.
Referring to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad that includes India, Australia, Japan and the US and the Malabar naval exercise by these four countries, Babushkin said Moscow has no doubts about New Delhi’s approach for promoting “inclusive maritime, connectivity, disaster management, blue economy and humanitarian cooperation in the Indian and Pacific Oceans”.
However, the understanding of the Indo-Pacific strategy among member states of the Quad is different, and a “comprehensive, all-inclusive, open-minded and forward-looking dialogue” is required on the issue, he said.
Russia is also opposed to “restricted security blocs and imposing forced changes in supply chains for geopolitical reasons,” he added.