India to buy Five S-400 Triumf Missile Defense Systems
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India to buy Five S-400 Triumf Missile Defense Systems

By IndraStra Global News Team

Image Attribute: S-400 "Triumf" / © Sergey Malgavko / Sputnik

Image Attribute: S-400 "Triumf" / © Sergey Malgavko / Sputnik

On October 4, 2018, India signed a deal worth US$ 5.43 billion (₹ 40,000 crores) to buy five Russian S-400 "Triumf" missile defense systems at the 19th edition of the Annual Bilateral Summit in New Delhi on October 4-5, 2018. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, there was no public signing, the deal was sealed during President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing visit to New Delhi.

The complete air defense system is expected to be delivered by the year 2020. 

The summit on Thursday and Friday includes talks between the leaders and with ministers and business people, and it will conclude with the signing of 23 bilateral documents, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said earlier this week.

The S-400 "Triumf" (Russian: C-400 Триумф, Triumph; NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler), previously known as the S-300 PMU-3, is an anti-aircraft weapon system developed in the 1990s by Russia's Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family. It has been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 2007.

As per Reuters, the United States has warned countries trading with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors they would face automatic sanctions under a sweeping legislation called Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that President Donald Trump signed into law last August.

Two days earlier, while addressing a press briefing in New Delhi, the Indian Air Force's Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa said that both the Rafale aircraft (from France) and the S-400 air defense missile system deals that India going to purchase from Russia are like a "booster dose". 

Just a day later, a U.S. State Department Spokesperson said on Wednesday, October 3, when asked about India's plan to purchase multi-billion S-400 missile defense system from Russia."We urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that would trigger sanctions under CAATSA". Under this act, the U.S. has already sanctioned China for buying Russian fighter jets and the S-400s.  

However, there is an option called "waiver" in Section 231 of the CAATSAwhich has been signed into law by President Trump in August 2018. But, it can only be granted under certain "strict" conditions. To get that waiver, the administration has to certify that a country is reducing arms imports from Russia and is expanding defense cooperation with the United States. In recent years, India has diversified its arms purchases, turning to the United States and Israel for modern equipment. It has ordered US$ 15 billion of weapons from the U.S. over the past 10 years and American companies are bidding for contracts for fighter planes and helicopters worth billions of dollars.

As of now, India has been receptive to U.S. overtures and but, also indicated that it will ask for that "waiver", which the U.S. has said, "it's not guaranteed". Existing defense relationships and longstanding policy of non-alignment continue to influence New Delhi's foreign affairs, which will actually create a lot of questions on the "waiver" in the near future if it is franchised. Sanctions against India are not something that current American administration wants. But, who knows what is there in the future?

With reporting by Business Insider, CNN, The Hindu, Times of India, and Reuters