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Expert says US sanctions unlikely to affect Russian arms deliveries to India

The agreements between Russia and India on frigates and S-400 antiaircraft missile systems were endangered over US sanctions, the India-based newspaper The Economic Times reported earlier
S-400 antiaircraft missile systems Mikhail Metzel/TASS
S-400 antiaircraft missile systems
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, March 9. /TASS/. The US sanctions against Russian defense contractors will hardly affect arms contracts between Moscow and Delhi as a final decision will be made by India’s top leadership, Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov told TASS on Thursday.

The India-based newspaper The Economic Times reported earlier on its website that the agreements between Russia and India on frigates and S-400 antiaircraft missile systems were endangered over US sanctions. The article says that any foreign supplier of military equipment is required under India’s legislation to get a guarantee from an Indian bank to get a possibility to participate in the purchase process.

However, as The Economic Times says, the US sanctions against Russia’s United Ship-Building Corporation and its subsidiaries, as well as against Almaz-Antey defense contractor ban Indian banks from issuing such guarantees.

"As for the situation with banks, India, indeed, fears that the Americans might impose sanctions on them [banks] but I don’t have the slightest doubt that this obstacle can be overcome," the expert said.

"Surely parallel procedures exist that will allow the deal to go through under any conditions. If the Indian highest political leadership wants the deal to go ahead, the US sanctions are not an obstacle," Pukhov said.

In the expert’s opinion, there are not so many arms markets where Russia really confronts the United States and, although India is among them, the share of Russian armaments supplied to Delhi is growing all the same.

As the expert said, Russia is not only supplying armaments to India but is also helping Indian partners develop their own weapons.

"We have not only transferred a nuclear-powered submarine to them for lease but have helped the Indians build their own nuclear submarine. At the same time, Americans do not transfer even their far less sensitive technologies to anyone, even to their closest NATO allies," the expert said.

Settlements in Indian rupees

Meanwhile, a source in the system of Russia’s military and technical cooperation explained to TASS that India will hardly give up Russian armament purchases over the US sanctions as the projects with Russia in this sphere are very significant for Delhi while arising financial problems can be solved through ruble-rupee settlements.

"It is unlikely that India will give up such significant projects in the sphere of military and technical cooperation in order to please the US. This is not in the country’s interests and, therefore, I believe that the government of Narendra Modi won’t allow this," the source said.

According to the source, the sanctions against defense contractors engaged in military and technical cooperation, many of which are operating actively in India, have been in effect for several years now but, nonetheless, the contracts with Delhi are being successfully implemented, and also new deals are concluded.

"The level of cooperation with India helps look for and find methods of solving problematic issues. This also relates to the issues of mutual settlements, which are solved quite successfully, including through ruble-rupee settlements," the source stressed.

As the source said, inter-governmental agreements have already been signed under the projects mentioned in the article and the contracts are in the process of approval.

At the same time, the customer has the right to give up purchases, if no firm contracts are signed, but the probability of this scenario is extremely low, the source said.

Russia-India cooperation

Russia and India signed a number of agreements in the sphere of military and technical cooperation in October last year, including a deal for the delivery of S-400 Triumf antiaircraft missile systems, and also a deal for the construction of Project 11356 frigates in the interests of the Indian Navy.

Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation has said it hopes that the contract for the delivery of S-400 air defense systems will be signed by the end of this year.

Military and technical cooperation between Russia and India is not limited only to these projects. Thus, in 2007, Russia and India signed an agreement on developing the FGFA (Fifth-Generation Fighting Aircraft). The Indian Air Force is expected to be the customer for this aircraft at the initial stage and later on the new fighter jet will be supplied to third countries.

Apart from this, Russia will take part in the project to develop India’s fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), and also in a tender for the delivery of 400 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.

From among contracts that have been concluded, it is important to note an agreement on the delivery of two A-50EI long-range radar detection and control aircraft, and also an agreement on organizing the licensed production of T-90S tanks on the territory of India.

Russia and India have also signed an inter-governmental agreement on producing Kamov Ka-226T light multipurpose helicopters on the territory of that country.