Will India Get Russian S-400 Air Defense Systems On Time Despite US Sanction Risks?

Russian officials claim India’s order for the S-400 air defense systems is on ‘track’ and the deliveries would be on schedule. India has invited the wrath of the US over its S-400 deal with Russia. 

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“The contract is being fulfilled in accordance with the negotiated timeframe,” state defense export agency Rosoboronexport told Russian news agency TASS on the sidelines of ‘Aero India’ show in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Rosoboronexport is the sole state intermediary agency for Russia’s exports/imports of defense-related and dual-use products, technologies, and services.

New Delhi and Moscow had formally signed a deal for five regiments of S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems worth Rs 40,000 crore ($5.43 billion) during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India, on October 5, 2018.

Interestingly, the United States has constantly threatened New Delhi with sanctions over the decision to choose the Russian air defense system over American Patriot PAC-3 under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

According to a Reuters report, Washington has told New Delhi that it is unlikely to get a waiver on its planned acquisition of Russian S-400 systems.

The Trump administration had in December imposed sanctions on Turkey for buying that weapon from Russia. Other countries that are facing US sanctions include Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

India’s argument is that it needs the missiles to counter the threat from China. India and China have been locked in a border face-off in Eastern Ladakh for almost nine months, the most serious in decades.

CAATSA’s provisions on Russia have been criticized by many experts. Senior fellow at Singapore’s ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, wrote that “Washington’s efforts to curb Moscow’s global arms sales may have the unintended effect of obstructing some Southeast Asian countries’ attempts to resist Beijing’s relentless advances; they may even enhance China’s influence.”

According to TASS, the S-400 ‘Triumf’ is the most advanced long-range air defense missile system that went into service in Russia in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise, and ballistic missiles, including medium-range weapons, and can also be used against ground installations. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.