Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday said S-400 is a legacy contract and the supply of the defence system has begun this month and would continue. During a special Ministry of External Affairs briefing today, the Foreign Secretary said: “There was a sense that S-400, which you all are aware, is a legacy contract, going back to 2018 and was in fact discussed before that. Supply has begun this month and will continue to happen.”
Addressing issues relating to other countries including the United States, Shringla noted that India and Russia conduct an independent foreign policy. “With all issues relating to other countries, it is important to note that whether it is us (India) or Russia, we conduct an independent foreign policy and I don’t think we need to look at our relationship in the light of any other relationship,” the Foreign Secretary said. Referring to Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), Shringla said that “I don’t think this issue came up at all” during the talks with the Russian delegation.
Shringla held a special briefing after the annual summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both countries have signed 28 MoUs along with a programme of cooperation in the field of defence for the next 10 years from 2021 to 2031.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today said that the United States undermined the India-Russia deal on S-400 defence system. He added that the US tried to make India “obey its orders” but New Delhi told them it’s a decision of a sovereign country to bolster its defence system. “We witnessed at times on part of the United States to undermine this cooperation and to make India obey US orders to follow American vision to how this region should develop, and our Indian friends clearly and firmly explained that they are a sovereign country and they will decide whose weapons to buy and who is going to be a partner of India in this and other areas,” Lavrov told ANI.
The S-400 air defence system was contracted for by India in a deal worth around Rs 35,000 crore and five squadrons would be provided to India for tackling air threats from up to 400 km. Washington had indicated that the Russian S-400 systems may trigger CAATSA sanctions. The CAATSA is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act CAATSA authorises the US administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.