Nuclear, space, railway pacts inked; 2 countries resolve to fight terrorism, drug trafficking
Brushing aside the US’ warning to impose sanctions, India on Friday inked the five billion dollar deal to buy S-400 Triumf air defence system from its time-tested and long-standing strategic ally Russia after summit level talks between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national Capital.
The India-Russia agreement for the missile system was signed in the presence of Putin and Modi at the summit.
The two countries also resolved to fight the scourge of terrorism and drug trafficking even as they inked seven pacts in the fields of nuclear energy, space and railways among others, besides the S-400 contract. Russia also agreed to train Indian astronauts for India’s ambitious human space mission project Gaganyaan planned for 2022.
The biggest takeaway, however, from the 19th annual summit-level meeting was the signing of the S-400 Triumf contract for the IAF, thereby ending all speculation about the deal not going through due to US cautions in the past few weeks. The US had maintained that arms purchases from Russia could invite sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) instituted by the US Congress.
The US lawmakers, though, have allowed the possibility of a presidential waiver of sanction subject to the US Congress approval.
The US urged its allies to forgo 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 against the nation undertaking “significant” business deals with Russia.
In fact, it did impose sanctions against China some days after it procured six S-400 Triumf systems from Russia. China was the first foreign buyer to seal a Government-to-Government deal with Russia in 2014 to procure the lethal missile system. Moscow has already started delivery.
Two days ago, IAF chief B S Dhanoa said the induction of S-400 will act as a “booster dose” for the operational capabilities of the force. The advanced surface-to-air missile defence system can detect an incoming target be it an aircraft or missile at a range of more than 600 km and neutralise it at 400 km. India wants the long-range missile systems to tighten its air defence mechanism, particularly along the nearly 4,000-km-long border with China.
As regards to India, the IAF will start inducting the S-400s two years after the date of inking the contract, sources said.
The other important issue to figure during Modi-Putin dialogue was the scourge of terrorism. Both sides condemned cross-border terrorism and safe havens to terrorists as they called for a “decisive” response to the menace of international terrorism without any “double standards.”
The statement came against the backdrop of India accusing Pakistan of indulging in cross-border terrorism and giving support to terrorist groups operating from its soil to target neighbouring countries.
In a joint statement issued after the summit, India and Russia agreed to “converge their efforts” to eradicate terrorist networks, their sources of financing, arms and fighters’ supply channels, to counter terrorist ideology, propaganda and recruitment.
“The sides denounced terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reiterated the need to combat international terrorism with decisive and collective response without any double standards,” said the statement titled ‘India-Russia: An Enduring Partnership in a Changing World’.
“Our two countries have common interests in cooperating on countering terrorism,” Modi said during his joint Press statement with Putin. Talks with Putin have given new direction to the bilateral strategic partnership, Modi said, adding, “Our special strategic partnership will achieve new heights.”
Recognising the importance of adopting the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, pending in the United Nations, to become part of the international law, both sides called upon the international community to make sincere efforts towards its early conclusion, it said.
To address the threats of chemical and biological terrorism, the two countries supported and emphasised the need for launching multilateral negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism.
The joint statement also talked about special attention to be paid to the issues of security and stability, including combating terrorism, illegal drug-trafficking and organised crime, thereby increasing effectiveness of cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure. Russia welcomed the participation of India in the counter-terror military exercise “Peace Mission -- 2018”, the statement said.