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Tue, 11/30/2021 - 10:28

Russia Could Ink $2Bln in Military Deals With India Amid Modi-Putin Talks, Media Claims

Russia's President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit New Delhi for the 21st India-Russia Annual Summit on 6 December. Experts reckon that New Delhi will not bow to America's CAATSA whereby countries are sanctioned for dealing with 'adversaries' of the US and it will proceed with defence deals and pacts to reassert its partnership with Russia. Russia could clinch defence deals worth more than $2 billion and sign pacts for the armed forces which have been pending a long time while President Vladimir Putin visits New Delhi at the beginning of December, the Times of India reported. This will be the first face-to-face meeting between Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the talks they held on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brasilia in November 2019. In the run-up to the Modi-Putin summit, talks have already begun to put the finishing touches on a wide-ranging strategic-defence plan, The Times of India daily reported on Monday. India has already passed a $702 million deal to make more than 671,000 AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles at an eastern Indian facility in Uttar Pradesh state's Amethi city. The paper reported that India's $1.5 billion deal to buy the Very Short-Range Air Defence System (VSHORADS) from Russia is also now in its "final stages". The $2.9 billion of deals for 21 MiG-29 and 12 additional Sukhoi-30 MKIs are expected to be signed next year. Contracts are likely to be signed despite the threat of pressure being brought against New Delhi under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a US act designed to deter other nations from entering into military deals with Russia, Iran, and North Korea - countries considered by America to be "adversaries". Section 231 of the act says that any "significant transactions" with Russian defence entities could trigger sanctions. The US administration applied sanctions to China and Turkey for buying S-400 missiles from Russia in 2018 and 2020, respectively. It also threatened India with sanctions even though New Delhi negotiated the acquisition of S-400 missiles before 2017 - the year CAATSA was passed. A military expert cited by the Times of India said that the US may try applying pressure to India over the forthcoming Russian hardware sales which represent a "significant transaction" but New Delhi will put its national interest first. "India does not in principle accept unilateral sanctions, thus is not obligated to shape relations with strategic partners as Russia based on the threat or fear of CAATSA [sanctions] by the United States," Rahul Bhonsle, former brigadier of the Indian army and strategic analyst, told Sputnik. When asked about sanctions by reporters, Arindam Bagchi, official spokesman of India's Ministry of External Affairs, said that India is pursuing an "independent foreign policy". "This also applies to our defence acquisition and supplies, which are guided by our national security interests," he noted on Friday, 26 November. Bagchi added that India has a special and privileged strategic partnership with Russia. India's envoy to Russia, Bala Venkatesh Varma, said in November that annual defence contracts between India and Russia rose to $9 to $10 billion compared with $2 to $3 billion since 2017, the year the Trump administration passed CAATSA. "Russia has moved back again as the top defence partner of India," Varma said. The ambassador listed a range of agreements, such as the Joint Commission on Technology and Science, Military-Technical cooperation for the next decade 2021-2031, and agreement on reciprocal logistic support for each other's armed forces, which are expected to be signed when Putin and Modi meet on 6 December. As far as signing military-technical agreements and procurement from Russia is concerned, strategic analyst Bhonsle also emphasised that India's decision will be based on operational defence requirements and not on the risk of CAATSA. "If there is some negative fallout in our relations with the US, these will be in the short term, and India will be able to weather the shock," Bhonsle emphasised. India will start by getting its first columns of the Russian S-400 "Triumf" air missile defence system as part of a $5.43 billion deal between New Delhi and Moscow for the supply of five such columns. The US has yet to decide whether it will impose sanctions under CAATSA on New Delhi over the Russia-India defence transaction for the S-400. Read more: