Indo-Russian Missile Deal

India and Russia have concluded a contract for this supply of S400 Missile systems. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited New Delhi recently. The S400 deal is expected to fulfil India’s defence needs and the NDA government claims to have taken the decision in national interest. The deal value is over USD 5 billion. Beijing had signed a deal with Moscow in 2015 for 6 battalions of the S400 system. Washington has threatened New Delhi and other partners with sanctions if their defence deals with Moscow go through. The CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions) was passed by the US Congress. But Congress has now passed a waiver to some countries including  India but that awaits Trump’s certification. US sources have, however, stated that CAATSA is not intended to do damage to the military capabilities of allies and partners. India has signed a defence deal with the US. And the Russian missile deal is expected to end terrorism in which India and the US are equally involved. So the threat of US sanctions may not be real and New Delhi is aware of it.

There are other factors too. Despite occasional friction, relations between the US and Russia are reported to be very amicable especially in their confrontation with NATO. That may be reassuring to India about the Russian missile deal as far as US sanctions are concerned. Questions may be raised, however, about the need for India arming itself to the teeth to fight international terrorism. The money invested in the deals could perhaps be better utilised in developing the economy of the country and eradicating poverty. India is not actually engaged in a battle with international terrorism. There are more powerful countries committed to it. India would be happy to put down cross border terrorism across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and enlist the support of Pakistan in achieving it. In the North Eastern region, where earlier insurgency/militancy required deployment of more boots on the ground the situation today is largely under control. In fact India needs to pump in more resources towards creating better communication facilities between the peripheries along the international borders for easy movement of troops and equipment. That is essential defence preparedness and not just investment in missiles that may not be used in a long time. India suffers because large parts of its regions are under-developed in terms of connectivity, health care, education, manufacturing and job creation. These are priority areas; not missiles.

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