Putin arrived in India on Thursday for a two-day visit during which India is expected to sign a $5 billion deal to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems despite a new US law ordering sanctions on any country trading with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors.
During the visit, President Putin will hold delegation level talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow. Almost 70 percent of India's present-day defense equipment was procured from Russian Federation, according to India's Defense Ministry.
The S-400 deal has been one of the major issues challenging India-US relations.
The deal comes despite warnings from the Pentagon that India would run afoul of US sanctions against Russia's military and defense sector if it purchased the sophisticated weapon systems.
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The planned purchase of the S-400 missile system also demonstrates India's continued reliance on Russian military hardware, once its primary supplier of weapons according to defense analysts. The US only last week slapped sanctions on China for buying the same S-400s. Under the CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), which was passed unanimously by the US Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, countries doing business with Russian, Iranian and North Korean defence companies will face sanctions.
In recent years India has established a strategic dialogue with the USA, and placed large orders for American military equipment, especially drones, and is even considering purchasing the F-35 stealth fighter. "We released him and that was it, he left". With an eye on China, New Delhi and Washington have been building a closer partnership. Russian Federation has also leased a nuclear-powered Akula class attack submarine to India's navy, and appears on the verge of agreeing to provide a second one. US' stand effectively means that any country that engages in defence or intelligence sharing with Russian Federation could also be subject to sanctions. What is behind this contract, what forces tried to prevent it, and should the Russian-Indian cooperation be limited only by the military field?
However, the U.S. is in a hard position when it comes to India. This annual summitry is unique as Russian Federation is one of only two countries, the other one being Japan, with which India holds this summit. The second agreement is also a defence deal and it involves the purchase of four Krivak-class frigates worth $2 billion (Rs 1,476 crore at the current price).
More than 80 percent of India's military equipment was of Soviet origin during the days of the Cold War, but since its breakup New Delhi has diversified its weaponry.