President Putin, when visiting Delhi, signed the agreement to supply Russia's S-400 anti-aircraft missile defence systems to India. It is worthy of note that India had earlier purchased weapons from the USA. Does it mean that NATO may get hold of Russia's S-400 technology?
Russia and India have a long history of friendship. The USSR stood up for India in the war with Pakistan. The Soviet administration used to send tons and tons of arms and food to India. Leonid Brezhnev had rendered Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi direct military assistance as well. The USSR had sent Pacific Fleet warships to the Bay of Bengal to counter the forces of USA's 7th Fleet that supported Pakistan.
After Narendra Modi's party (Bharatiya Janata Party) came to power in India, the relationship did not get chilled. Cooperation within the BRICS, the North-South infrastructure project, the joint development of armaments, etc. - the friendship between Russia and India was growing stronger steadily. However, during the presidency of Barack Obama, the United States decided to make Modi a strategic partner despite the fact that the Indian prime minister had been barred from entering the USA for years because of his position on the events in the State of Gujarat.
These days, officials with the US administration call Modi's government the most democratic one in Asia. Te USA wants New Delhi to be the main counterweight to Beijing in the region. In 2001, the United States lifted restrictions on the supplies of American weapons to India. Not too long ago, the USA and India signed the Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), according to which India can buy American equipment for secure communication systems.
Originally, the United States signed the agreement with members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It just so happens that India is admitted to American advanced technologies within the scope of NATO. This is the highest degree of trust that the Indians intend to break by buying S-400 systems from Russia. Washington is not sure yet whether to impose sanctions on India for this or not.
We are witnessing the struggle between two powers for allied relations with India - the most dynamically developing country in the world, which is ready to pay billions of dollars for military contracts and technologies.
According to Tatyana Shaumyan, the head of the Center for Indian Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, "India should win this fight" owing to its pragmatism. "The Soviet Union and Russia are traditional allies of India's indeed, but India also has traditional ties with the United States. About two million Indians live in the United States, and this is a powerful diaspora in terms of financial opportunities," the expert said in an interview with Pravda.Ru.
India will not play for zero option, that is, either with Russia or with the United States. The deal on S-400 will take place, just like the deal for Kamov helicopters. Russia and India will continue cooperating in the field of railway construction, joint space research and other areas. During this year, India is to receive $4.2 billion for the construction of the fifth and sixth units of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.
"The Americans will make an exception - they will not impose sanctions on India. Russia is also very interested in having India as a partner, especially in light of the enormous pressure from the West," Tatyana Shaumyan summed up in an interview with Pravda.Ru.
The deal worth nearly $5.5 billion was approved after India told the Russians that COMCASA applies only to acquiring arms from the United States. "The COMCASA is a platform-based pact that does not force us to anything. We know how to maintain a balance," The Print publication wrote with reference to a source in the Indian government.
The newspaper indicates that India is ready to buy at least 60 Kamov-226T helicopters for their subsequent production in India, as well as four frigates of Project 11356 (Burevestnik) worth about $2.2 billion. India has not signed the contract yet - New Delhi wants to have guarantees for the supplies of new engines. The Russian side said that Ukrainian-made engines will be replaced with those of domestic production.
Another contract is about the joint production of AK-103 assault rifles. The Indian army gave a positive assessment of this weapon. To circumvent possible sanctions, Russia proposed concluding relevant agreements in currencies other than the US dollar, The Print wrote.
Lyuba Lulko (Stepushova)
Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru