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Russia hails India for S-400 missile deal despite US pressure


NEW DELHI: With the US threatening to impose CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) sanctions on India for the latter’s S-400 air defence missile system deal with Russia, the Russian ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev on Thursday slammed CAATSA calling it an instrument of political pressure.

The ambassador also said CAATSA will not come in the way of major defence deals with India in the near future and complimented India for acting as an “independent” country. Russia, he said, was also willing to have a COMCASA type of agreement (which India signed with US recently) with India to upgrade military ties between the 2 countries.

“CAATSA is bad. It’s an instrument of political and unfair pressure and not the right way of doing things,’’ said Kudashev, while replying to a query about the looming threat of sanctions from the US.

US President Donald Trump had warned Wednesday that India will find out “sooner than you think’’ if CAATSA sanctions will apply to India’s $5 billion S-400 deal with Russia during the visit by President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

The ambassador said that India and Russia, despite the threat of CAATSA, will soon sign agreements for stealth frigates and Kalashnikov rifles. While there’s a perception that India has backed out of the understanding to jointly develop fifth generation fighter aircraft, Kudashev said the same would be back on the priority list “in time”.

“Maybe the priority has been reworked with the focus more on S-400 but it remains a part of our agenda,” said Kudashev.

When asked why India and Russia had played down the signing of agreement for S-400 during Putin’s visit, Kudashev said that while military cooperation was important, it was not the only focus area. “Military ties need not be seen as the only factor defining the relationship,” he said.

Talking to journalists about the summit, Kudashev said the 2 countries committed to working for peace and stability in the region and were ready to assume additional responsibility for that.

When asked if Russia was ready to have an enabling Comcasa type of agreement for military and security cooperation, the ambassador said it was logical to work for it. “In my opinion it is logical for the 2 sides to consider and upgrade the legal basis for their cooperation,’’ said Kudashev.

On the issue of India’s NSG membership, the ambassador said Russia remained supportive of India’s bid to become a member and that China, which continues to block India’s entry, is well aware of Russia’s position.

Source: Economic Times