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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a multibillion deal on the purchase of S-400 air defense missile systems with Russian President Vladimir Putin in defiance of US sanctions threat. The system is expected to be delivered by 2020.
Sputnik discussed the purchase with Dr. J Jeganaathan, Assistant Professor of the National Security Studies at the Central University of Jammu in India.
Sputnik: Why is this purchase crucial for India’s defense?
Dr. J Jeganaathan: This purchase of the S-400 missile defense system is very crucial for India, it will fix the strategic asymmetry, especially in the strategic weapons modernization process which Indian has been doing.
As you know India is very particularly located flanked by two major rivals, and China, Pakistan growing in excess. And also the instability in the region it all kind of demands that India needs to enhance its defense capability vis-a-vis the two front war, even if it’s not going to happen at least it serves as a strategic deterrence vis-a-vis China and also China and Pakistan combined.
From that point of view, this purchase would enable India’s deterrence capability at the strategic level in dealing with any unexpected confrontation with the two nuclear rivals.
Sputnik: India went ahead with the deal despite the threat of US sanctions, does India have enough leverage over the US to avoid sanctions?
Dr. J Jeganaathan: I see this deal, once again, related to India’s strategic autonomy which has been the cornerstone of India’s foreign policy, the Prime Minister has upheld India’s strategic autonomy in dealing with the global powers, so from that point of view India’s once again very strongly, clearly articulated its strategic autonomy in dealing with world superpowers.
As far as Washington’s concerns we have a very strong relationship with the US and which is very strategic and also we have signed this Logistics Security Agreement with the US and also the 2+2 summit and the meetings also resulted in signing the counterterrorism agreement and cooperation against mutual threats, so that means we are very much strategically close with the US.
But at the same time, our relationship with Russia is a very long one, very time test and very deep in terms of strategic military supplies is concerned, Russia has been a reliable supplier of all the strategic weapons as well as the nuclear capabilities, the building of India’s nuclear capabilities and military hardware.
So in that case we have a very old friend, Russia has been a reliable and an old friend. But at the same time we have a shared strategic interest with the US, so from that point of view I think that Washington will recognize India’s concern and also accept the deal.
In fact, what I’ve heard from the latest news, the reaction from the US Embassy in Delhi which is very clear that they are going to build a case under this CAATSA, The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, where the embassy has issued a statement saying that the sanctions are not aimed at damaging the military capabilities of Russian or their partners but to see that there will be corrections.
And they also highlighted that there will be as the waiver is concerned vis-a-vis India, which has been communicating to its US counterparts saying that this deal has already been in the discussion much before the CAATSA came into effect, so India should be treated in a different case.
So I think a waiver is likely, the Americans, the US is likely going to waive India from the CAATSA sanctions, so I don’t think this is going to have serious damage vis-a-vis Indo-US relationship.
Sputnik: Russian banks are open to trading with Indian national currency, do you think that this will happen anytime soon, trading in national currencies?
Dr. J Jeganaathan: I think it is going to happen soon, I think it’s most likely, the trading in the Indian currency. We have an example that India did so vis-a-vis Iran, our payments have been done in Indian currency, so I think that’s most likely from the Indian side given the depreciation of Indian money against the dollar, so I think it’s likely from the Indian side.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.