India-Russia bilateral summit today; S-400 air defence system, frigates deals likely

New Delhi, October 5: India and Russia are expected to sign two major arms deals – for the S-400 Triumf air and missile defence system and four more Kirivak/Talwar class stealth frigates – as President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hold the annual bilateral summit today.

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President Putin, who arrived in Delhi on Thursday on a two-day visit for the summit, was received by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and met PM Modi shortly after his arrival.

The 19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit scheduled to take place on Friday is expected to see the both sides review bilateral defence cooperation in the wake of the US sanctions against Russian defence majors. The key focus will be the $5-billion deal (Rs 39,000 crore) for supply of the S-400 system, which is capable of destroying incoming aerial targets at a range of 400km.

The deal will come against backdrop of the US threat that the S-400 air and missile defence system is a “focus area” for significant transactions that could attract indirect sanctions against nations that enter into a military purchase with Moscow.

“The administration has indicated that a focus area for the implementation of CAATSA Section 231 is new or qualitative upgrades in capability – including the S-400,” a US state department spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The US president can grant waivers if a deal does not threaten the security of US or its allies and there is evidence the buyer has been cutting defence imports and dependence on Russia. India fulfils these conditions and officials have sounded optimistic about getting a waiver.

India and Russia are also likely to sign a $2.5 billion deal for four more Krivak/Talwar class stealth frigates for the Indian navy on Friday during the summit, according to two senior officials familiar with the matter.

The new Grigorovich-class ‘Project 1135.6’ frigates will be powered by gas turbine engines to be supplied by Ukrainian firm Ukroboronprom’s Gas Turbine Research & Production Complex Zorya-Mashproekt.

President Putin and PM Modi are also likely to deliberate on key regional and global issues, including US sanctions on import of Iranian crude oil.

The two-day summit follows their informal summit in May in the Russian city of Sochi.

 

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