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Indian Defense Minister visits Moscow to seek faster delivery of S-400 missile system

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Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi
Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi
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Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Moscow Monday on a three-day visit to Russia where he is expected to apprise the Russian officials of the on-going situation at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.

According to the Asian News International (ANI) of India, in the backdrop of heightened tensions at the border with China, India will be requesting Russia to urgently supply via the air route instead of the sea route spare parts and associated equipment for Indian fighter planes, battle tanks and submarines.

ANI quoted government sources as saying that during his visit to Russia, the Defense Minister will discuss urgent supply of spares and equipment required for Russian-origin fighter aircraft like the MiG-29s and the Sukhoi-30MKIs of the Indian Air Force, the T-90 battle tanks of the Indian Army and the Kilo-class submarines of the Indian Navy, among others.

The equipment was earlier supposed to be shipped to India via the sea route but these shipments were delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The defense minister will request the Russian authorities to send these via the air route, the report added.

During his talks, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh is also expected to ask the Russian authorities to expedite the delivery of S-400 air defense systems that were supposed to be delivered to India by the end of 2021.

Russia to delay delivery of S-400 missile systems to India by two years

The delivery of the S-400 Triumf air defense missile systems by Russia to India will be delayed by at least two years, it was announced in February 2020. The original timeline stipulated at the time of the signing of the $5.43 Billion contract on October 5, 2018 required the delivery of five S-400 systems to India between October 2020 and April 2023.

But Russia on February 17 conveyed that the revised deadline would delay delivery to 2025. "We are about to cross USD 16 Bn amount of deals. Both sides are committed to their timely and successful implementation, including supply of the S-400 best in the world air defense systems by 2025," the Russian Embassy in New Delhi declared in a statement.According to Indian Defense News, acquisition of the S-400 is critical to India's military preparedness plans in filling up glaring air defense gaps. It was on account of the critical necessity that even the requirement for offsets (counter-trade obligations) was waived off for Russia. The delay prolongs India's air defense vulnerabilities.

Tellingly, an influential Member of Parliament of the ruling Bhartia Janta Party, Subramanian Swamy, in a tweet has warned the Modi government not to use S-400 missiles in a possible battle with China. "This is because S-400 is made with Chinese electronics. Russia today is a junior partner of China."

This is not the first time Swamy has warned against the S-400 missile system. In December 2019, Swamy warned the presence of Chinese electronics would make the missile system "compromised" in a war with Pakistan, in addition to the risk of US sanctions.

De-escalating tensions on China-India border paramount

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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