The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, is set to visit New Delhi this week for a two-day round of bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. While a number of issues are expected to be discussed at the India-Russia Summit, the main priority will be the signing of a defense deal.
Following years of negotiations, India is expected to agree to purchase the S-400 defence missile system from Russia. It has been speculated that the $5.4 billion deal may be blocked by India’s ally, the US, which places sanctions on countries engaged in defence cooperation and deal-making with Russia.
However, Russia seems confident that the deal will go through, while even India government officials have told media outlets that the signing of the deal is “more likely than not”. This is contingent on India getting a waiver from the US administration for the deal, which was a subject of their recent 2+2 dialogue. While a law was recently passed in the US Congress that allowed waivers to some countries, the waiver for India requires a personal certification from President Trump.
The deal comprises five S-400 systems, which is capable of shooting down targets at a distance of 400 kms. The first unit is slated for delivery by 2020.
Earlier this week, Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told TASS, Russia’s new agency, that the theme of the upcoming India-Russia summit would be military and technical cooperation and that a number of agreements were expected to be signed. When quizzed on the details of the S-400 deal and its progress, he said he was unable to share details.
The two sides have been discussing the S-400 deal since 2015. India has defended the deal to the US by saying that by boosting its defence capability, it can become a stronger US ally in the region. In fact, India’s Cabinet Committee for Security even approved the deal last week despite the fact that it hadn’t received the US’s greenlight.
In addition to the S-400 deal, India and Russia are also expected to discuss a number of other agreements, including one for the purchase of two Krivak stealth ships and another for the domestic production of AK-103 assault rifles. There are also some infrastructure investment pacts slated for discussion.
A strong defence relationship with Russia is important to the Indian government. It requires Russian cooperation for the continued servicing and upgrading of its Russian-origin military equipment