New Delhi Correspondent
Brushing aside the threat of American sanctions, India and Russia on Friday inked a five billion-dollar military deal for supply of four S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile system to New Delhi after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin here.
A joint statement issued after the talks said India and Russia“highlighted the progress achieved in fulfilment of the agreements envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding on trilateral cooperation in implementation of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Project in Bangladesh.
The two sides expressed satisfaction over signing of the Action Plan for Prioritization and Implementation of Cooperation Areas in the Nuclear Field Identified Jointly, said the statement. The Rooppur plant is the first example of India-Russia collaboration in civil nuclear sector in a third country.
Modi and Putin also signed eight pacts, including on cooperation on India’s human space mission project to the moon, nuclear energy and rail transport.
At a joint media interaction with Putin after the talks, Modi said India accorded the highest priority to its ties with Russia. The world has changed but the relationship between India and Russia has remained same, he added.
The S-400 missile defence system deal, which India and Russia have been negotiating for the last three years, is designed to take down aerial targets—war planes, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles—from a distance of over 400km.
India needs the air defence system, considered the world’s most advanced, keeping in mind its next door neighbours Pakistan and China which has already begun getting delivery of the same Russian air defence system. Russia remains India’s number one source of military hardware for decades although the US has now taken the second spot.
However, the India-Russia deal for the air defence system could invite US sanctions under US President Donald Trump administration’s law Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on arms purchases from Russia.
The US has urged its allies to abandon military transactions with Russia, warning that the S-400 missile defence system that India wanted to buy would be a ‘focus area’ for it to implement punitive sanctions. American lawmakers, however, have allowed the possibility of a presidential waiver.
Modi said Putin’s visit has helped India-Russia ties. “Today, the decisions we have taken will give impetus to our relations. From trade, investment, technology and energy, to economic cooperation, our relations are now diversified,” he said.
“We have taken ties beyond the conventional dimension. Russia has always stood by India,’ Modi said.
For his part, Putin said “we will strengthen cooperation in industry and investment, agriculture, medicine, pharmaceuticals etc. A Russian railways company will help India build modern railroads, Russia will assist India in exploring outer space, etc.
“For decades, Russia and India has been cooperating in the area of defence. Russia and India concur at international platforms on key issues, including coordination at UN, We will combat terrorism threats, drug trafficking and trans-border crimes,” he said.
Modi said talks with Putin “have given new direction to the bilateral strategic partnership, and India and Russia are committed to cooperating in the fight against terrorism. President Putin also said the two countries have agreed to step up cooperation in combating the menace of terrorism and drug trafficking.
The Russian President said India is where Russia finds friendship, mutual respect and sympathy. “The joint statement outlines plans and prospects for a long time and the documents signed today aims to develop ties between the countries,” Putin added.
The Indian PM said “there will be an increase it our ties after today’s discussion and help increase peace and stability in this world in these challenging times “I can say with full confidence, that our friendship is unique,” he said.
Putin arrived in India on Thursday evening for the two-day annual India-Russia bilateral summit with Modi. The Russian head of the state, who was accompanied by a high-level delegation, was received by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Modi had hosted a private dinner for Putin at his official residence on Thursday night, and both leaders discussed a range of issues.
The India-Russia bilateral relationship was elevated to Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership in 2010.