New Delhi, July 13: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that India would go head with the proposed purchase of five Russian-made S-400 Triumf advanced air defense systems despite US sanctions against Moscow red-flagging the deal for which an agreement is almost ready. She didn’t give a specific time for concluding the $5.5 billion military deal for the Triumf interceptor-based missile system — billed as a game-changer for India’s ability to counter ballistic missiles and stealth aircraft like those China is developing. “It is almost at the conclusive stage. It will happen soon. But when it is going to be finalised, I can’t say,” Sitharaman told reporters about the much-awaited procurement of the long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
Asked if the US sanctions targeting Russia for its purported interference in the 2016 presidential election process would impact India’s military purchases, the Defence Minister said Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was an American and not a UN law. “Our defence relation with Russia has endured several decades and we have conveyed about it to a US Congressional delegation which visited India recently.”
India’s deep military and strategic ties with Russia date back to the beginning of the Cold War even as New Delhi led a movement of “non-aligned” countries that declared their tilt with neither Washington nor Moscow. However, India always leaned toward the then USSR. India still buys over 60 per cent of its defence equipment from Russia. At present, the Indian armed forces are 70 per cent equipped with Soviet or Russian weapons.(IANS)