In what may be termed as a major boost to India’s air defence system, Russia began delivering the S-400 missiles to India. It is expected that India will deploy these missiles by end of 2021.
India and Russia entered into an agreement for the purchase of S-400 Triumf surface -to-air missile in a US$ 5 billion deal in 2018.
The deal became controversial as the US had threatened with sanctioning India over the purchase.
The report of delivery was announced by the Director of Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugaev. However, Indian officials are yet to confirm the arrival of missile. It is anticipated that the long-range defence systems would be deployed in the Western frontiers or to guard the borders in the North.
In the 2018 deal, India sought five units of the missile system. A year later India paid the first tranche of payment, US$ 800 million.
The S-400 Triumf, is one of the most advanced surface-to-air defence systems. The missile range is 400 kms. These missiles are going to protect against missiles, rockets, and even aircrafts.
In October this year, the Indian Chief of Airforce, Air Chief Marshall VR Chaudhari had announced that the acquired systems would be deployed by this year end.
The report of delivery of S-400 missiles comes ahead of the Russian President’s visit to India. President Vladimir Putin is expected to arrive in India on 6 December. The Russian President’s visit will be one of his first visits abroad after the pandemic.
The Indian leadership had to go ahead with the deal, despite threats from the US officials. As India is now a member of QUAD, along with the US, Japan and Australia, many observers believed that India is tilting towards the US. This deal is just an example that India is ready to maintain a fine balance between its “traditional” friend Russia and the US and work towards securing its borders.
President Putin’s visit is certainly going to strengthen the bilateral ties between India and Russia. Afghanistan will also be part of discussions between Russian and Indian officials during the visit.
Since the fall of Kabul, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Putin have stayed connected and consulted, as the events unfolded. The Russian National Security Advisor Nikolay Patrushev has visited New Delhi in September to discuss matters related to Afghanistan. He was also participated during the recently concluded NSAs meet on Afghanistan in New Delhi.
In past one year, Russia has also collaborated with India in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. Sputnik, the Russian-made vaccine was delivered at the earliest in India and now it is being jointly manufactured in India.
The Russian President’s visit is likely to see the renewal of military and technical cooperation between the two old friends for another decade.