India, Russia Expected to Seal Arms Deal During Putin Visit

An S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system seen in Moscow's Red Square in May 2018

An S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system seen in Moscow's Red Square in May 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi on Thursday. Today, upon the arrival of the Russian president, Modi tweeted, "Welcome to India, President Putin. Looking forward to our deliberations, which will further enhance India-Russia friendship", Modi said on Twitter. "Both leaders are looking at a long-term, sustained relationship and how to make progress", a source said, signalling that India will not come under pressure from the worldwide community on cutting ties with Russian Federation. "India is optimistic of a waiver and they can be optimistic once, but it cannot be a free ticket", a US diplomatic source said.

China too would be keeping a close watch on Putin's India visit because any large defence deal between New Delhi and another country is seen by the Chinese as having possible ramifications for Beijing. The US has imposed military sanctions against Russian Federation under stringent CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).

While all the noise is around the arms deal, if signed, it could violate the sanctions by the US under Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which is initiated by the US Congress on purchases of arms from Russian Federation.

The agreements to be signed are likely to boost cooperation in keys sectors such as defence, space, trade, energy and tourism, among others.

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.

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The source added that U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis has made a serious push for a waiver but the decision is for President Donald Trump to make. "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 air and missile defence system", the spokesperson said.

"India has maintained its sovereignty as regards to its relationship with countries".

All eyes will be on the defence agreements for the S-400 missile defence system +, frigates and assault rifles. India is also expected to ink the $5 billion S-400 Triumf deal with Moscow. After all, sanctions won't be as easy on India as it was last month when financial sanctions were imposed on China for buying S-400 as well as Su-35 fighter jets from Russian Federation. The current uncertainties in the oil market, especially about how many Iranian barrels will be lost to US sanctions, will persist for at least another month until the market gets some clarity on the Iran sanctions, Novak noted.

Putin will is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow.

He will also interact with a group of talented children and address an India-Russia business meet.

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