India’s navy chief on Monday was starting a three-day visit to Russia, where he will hold talks with Russian officials on expanding bilateral military relations, despite a looming threat of sanctions by the United States, which has constantly warned New Delhi against military transactions with Moscow.
Admiral Sunil Lanba will arrive in St. Petersburg, where he is scheduled to hold wide-ranging talks with his Russian counterpart, Admiral Vladimir Korolev.
Lanba will also meet a number of top military officials “to consolidate bilateral defense relations with Russia, as also to explore new avenues for defense cooperation,” said spokesperson of the Indian Navy Capt. DK Sharma.
The Indian navy chief’s visit to Russia follows a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to India, where he signed a five-billion-dollar deal with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide New Delhi with Russian S-400 air defense systems.
The Russian-built S-400 is capable of intercepting and destroying airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers and simultaneously engaging up to six targets. Russia is expected to deliver the first missile system to India by the end of 2020.
India has earlier received warnings from Washington against buying Russian weapons. Based on its domestic laws, the US administration imposes sanctions on third countries that transact with Russian defense or intelligence sectors.
Back in September, the administration of US President Donald Trump issued a warning that buying such an advanced system would be considered a “significant transaction” and that there could be “implications.”
India, the top buyer of Russian arms, however seems to have ignored the US threats.
Amit Cowshish, a former financial adviser on defense acquisition for the India’s Defense Ministry, said India could not afford to distance itself from Moscow and that “there is no reason for India to buckle under the US pressure to roll back procurement of hardware from Russia.”
“Apparently, the Indian defense establishment is convinced that S-400 Triumf system is ideally suited to fill a critical gap in our existing capabilities,” he said in late September.
New Delhi also plans to seal a new 10-year framework deal with Russia to manufacture and upgrade at least a dozen types of Russian armament systems in the country, including fighter jets, artillery guns, and rocket launchers.
China and Turkey have also signed S-400 purchase agreements with Russia. Turkey, a NATO member, is due to receive its S-400 next year and is expected to have the system ready for use by 2020.
The US has already imposed sanctions against the Chinese military for buying Russian-made missiles.
Source: Press TV