Moscow: Indian Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran said that India is committed to all its military-technical agreements with Russia and won’t back out of the proposed purchase of the Russian-made S-400 Triumf advanced air defence system despite US concerns.
Saran’s remarks come days after a top US Congressmen, Republican Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the House Armed Services, told a group of journalists that there was a lot of concern in both the Donald Trump administration and the Congress regarding the S-400 missile system being acquired by any of American partners, including India.
In response, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the US sanctions were not binding on India and that New Delhi will go ahead with the proposed purchase of S-400s. She said that India’s ties with Russia were independent of external influences and relationships with other countries and the same had been conveyed in all its engagements with the US.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Russia on May 21 for an informal summit with President Vladimir Putin in the summer beach resort of Sochi amid US sanctions against Moscow.
Thornberry, who was in India last week, said if New Delhi went ahead with the purchase, it would complicate “our ability to work out inter-operability” at a time when the US had issued sanctions against Russian oligarchs and companies. These include Rosoboronexport, the state-owned Russian weapons trading company.
India’s deep military and strategic ties with Russia date back to the beginning of the Cold War even as New Delhi led a movement of “non-aligned” countries that declared their tilt with neither Washington nor Moscow. However, India always leaned toward the then USSR.
India still buys over 60 per cent of its defence equipment from Russia. At present, the Indian armed forces are 70 per cent equipped with Soviet or Russian weapons.