India risks USA sanctions with $5-bln purchase of Russian missiles

Russian S-400 Triumph medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile systems

Russian S-400 Triumph medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile systems

Putin was received by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on his arrival following which he reached his counterpart's official residence Lok Kalyan Marg, where they held a one-on-one meeting.

India and Russian Federation are expected to conclude several defence deals worth close to $10 billion for five S-400 air defence systems, four stealth frigates and Ak-103 assault rifles.

Ahead of his meeting, Modi tweeted, "Welcome to India, President Putin". Putin arrived in India on Thursday for a two-day visit during which India is expected to sign a $5 billion deal to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems despite a new USA law ordering sanctions on any country trading with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors.

The official emphasized that the ultimate target of these sanctions was Russian Federation. Besides the fund crunch, money transfer to Russian military entities sanctioned by the United States is a challenge to India.

All eyes will be on the defence agreements for the S-400 missile defence system +, frigates and assault rifles.

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Nevertheless, an amendment to the act allows Trump to grant waivers on a case-by-case basis.

The Trump administration has passed the CAATSA law under which sanctions will be imposed on countries having significant defence cooperation with Russian Federation, in an attempt to curb Russia's arms sales. Under CAASTA (Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act) Act, the USA is free to impose sanctions on any country that goes into business with North Korea, Russia or Iran.

New Delhi wants the system to enhance its air defense amid its rivalry with neighboring China, which already owns the S-400, and Pakistan. China has also perturbed India by loaning vast amounts of money to countries such as Sri Lanka where it has long held sway.

Putin arrived in Delhi on Thursday evening and he and Modi were due to have dinner before the main talks on Friday.

On the strategic front, Russian Federation helped India become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation this year and has backed New Delhi's long-held demand for a permanent UN Security Council seat.

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But Russia remains India's main arms supplier, and a string of new deals with the Asian giant would be a major win for Moscow - and a big snub to the US.

New Delhi is expected to request a special waiver from the USA for the purchase, but it remains unclear whether the Trump administration, which believes the S-400 could access sensitive military technology, will accede.

What is less known is that Mattis and Pompeo spent over an hour with NSA Ajit Doval for a deeper conversation on two contentious issues - imports of Iranian oil post sanctions that will kick in from November 4, and the S-400 from Russian Federation.

The law is created to punish Putin for the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, involvement in the Syrian civil war and meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Doval had a 90-minute intense discussion with Secretary Mattis on the need for India to acquire the S-400 missile system.

In May, Modi had travelled to Russian coastal city of Sochi for an informal summit with Putin during which they discussed a range of crucial issues.

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