India has signed a $5 billion defense deal with Russia for the purchase of S-400 missile systems despite the threat of US sanctions. Here are five things that you should know about this much-discussed deal.
What is S-400 Triumf?
S-400 is one of the world’s most advanced air defense missile systems that can shoot down enemies’ aircraft in the skies from the surface itself. It can engage almost every type of modern warplanes including advanced jet fighters with stealth capabilities. Its radar targets 600 km away. If S-400 systems are deployed in India, it can track aircraft flying within the borders of China and Pakistan. It is manufactured by the Russian government-owned arms company Almaz-Antey, the S-400 Triumf is known as the SA-21 Growler by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or NATO.
Why is there a threat of American sanctions?
Countering America’s Adversaries Through the Sanctions Act, CAATSA is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Since India has strong business ties with both Iran and Russia at the same time very important strategic and business relations with the USA, it becomes very complicated for pundits of diplomacy to predict the action of America after this deal has been signed.
New development between Indo-American which may affect America’s decision of sanction
India signed the COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) with the US exactly a month ago in the 2+2 dialogue between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis with their Indian counterparts Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman. This, along with the LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) are some of the “foundational agreements” that New Dehli has signed with Washington. These agreements are considered very important in the view of aggressive policies of China and the US would not like to lose an ally like India against China. Therefore, this situation works as deterrence against American sanctions on India.
S-400 is the Best Air Defense available
Major General PK Chakravorty (retired), who spent decades shaping India’s air defense capabilities in the army in an interview with Asia Times says that the S-400 is the best air defense system available to the country.
“The Americans are not even offering the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) air defense system to Japan, one of their closest allies. So why will they offer it to India? Nor is the Patriot system available. That makes the S-400 the best and in many ways, it is even better,” Chakravorty said.
The deal is a demonstration of India’s independent stand
Going for the deal despite the threat of US sanctions shows India’s will power that it has its own independent foreign policy based on national interest and it would not bow down to so-called big powers. Similarly, in 1998, when India went for the nuclear test, the US put several sanctions on the country but it could hardly affect economic growth. Today, the situation is different; the US would not like to lose an ally like India and it’s very possible that the US government will somehow avoid imposing sanctions on India.