The Indian security cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved this week the purchase of five Russian systems of air defense S-400 “Triumph” for an amount slightly less than 5.5 billion dollars. The government-to-government contract is expected to be signed on October 5, during a visit to New Delhi by Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
This acquisition theoretically exposes India to targeted sanctions on the part of the United States, in accordance with the provisions of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act [CAATSA], that is to say the American device which aims to prevent any trade with Russian companies in the arms sector. China has recently paid for it after the purchase of Su-35 aircraft and S-400 systems.
However, the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), promulgated in August by President Trump, provides for exemptions on a case-by-case basis. However, Washington has informed the Indian government that the choice of the S-400 system is not the most appropriate in terms of interoperability, at a time when both countries intend to strengthen their military cooperation against China.
For example, Randall Schriver, the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and the Pacific, warned that a waiver would not be automatically granted in New Delhi. “We would definitely prefer […] India to look for alternatives and see if we can not become a partner to meet those kinds of needs,” he said.
But that did not stop the signing of a “Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement” (COMCASA) by Pentagon chief James Mattis during a recent trip to the United States. India. This agreement provides Indian forces with access to secure information networks used by US aircraft.
“Our defense relationship with Russia has been going on for several decades and we talked to a US Congressional delegation recently to India,” Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said of the possible complications. with Washington.
The first S-400 battery should be delivered to Indian forces two years after the contract is signed. As a reminder, this system is capable of intercepting and destroying targets from a distance of up to 400 kilometers.
That being so, the S-400s would not be the only ones concerned. Indeed, there is also an order for at least two Russian frigates derived from the Krivak class and an intergovernmental agreement for the production of AK-103 assault rifles in India.