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Russia, India non-committal on delivery of S-400 missile system

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Foreign minister of Russia and India, Sergei Lavrov, and S Jaishnkar, held talks in New Delhi on Tuesday over the two countries' cooperation in defense, nuclear and space sector.

However, they side stepped the issue of delivery of S-400 weapons system. Jaishankar told a press conference that the S-400s would be discussed at a meeting of defense ministers later in the year. "We talked about long-standing partnership in nuclear, space and defense sectors," said Jaishankar.

In October 2018, India had signed a $5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems. The former Trump administration had denied India a waiver from a 2017 U.S. law aimed at deterring nations from buying Russian military hardware, a stance that is expected to continue under President Joe Biden.

The situation has not changed despite Trump's ouster from the White House "If the US says this (sanction) overtly we all will know, but we also know the reciprocal reaction," said Lavrov.

America's India problem is all about Russia

The United States has an India problem, and it's all about Russia, says Salvatore Babones of Foreign Policy. In an article published on February 16, under the above title, Baones said:

"In 2018, India agreed to buy five Russian S-400 missile systems for the whopping price of $5.4 billion. The highly advanced S-400 system is considered on par with the United States' best air defense weapons system, the Patriot missile. It's the same missile system that led the outgoing Trump administration to impose U.S. sanctions on Turkey in December 2020. Now, India is next in line for similar sanctionsand that prospect has seriously strained bilateral relations, threatened the United States' own defense sales in India, and called into question President Joe Biden's commitment to working with allies to confront China."

"Of course, the sanctions issue is not really about India. It's about Russia. The Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), passed by Congress in 2017 to punish Russia for interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections, comes very close to requiring the president to impose sanctions on any country that makes "significant" purchases of military equipment from Russia. But it would be a big mistake for Biden to impose sanctions on India," Babones said adding:

"Quite the contrary: The United States should actually welcome India's purchase of Russian arms. When it comes to confronting China across Eurasia, the United States needs India much more than India needs the United States. For India, the United States is a welcome and valued security partner but too far away and not particularly reliable. For the United States, India is its only friend in the region that is willing and able to act as a counterbalance to China."

If Washington wants New Delhi's help in solving the region's many smoldering conflicts, it will have to show some forbearance on sanctions. Better to let Russia off the sanctions hook than to catch India in the CAATSA net, Babones concluded.

Political analysts believe that apparently, Russia and India failed to agree on the delivery of S-400 missile system and took shelter behind the meeting of Defense Ministers' meeting.

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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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