India, Russia Expected to Seal Arms Deal During Putin Visit

As Russian President Vladimir Putin visits India, the most high profile item on the agenda will be a deal for New Delhi to buy a multi-billion-dollar air defense system and other weaponry. If concluded, the deal will be in violation of American sanctions against Russia.

The potential agreement comes as an indication that India will continue its defense ties with Russia, even as it deepens a military and strategic alliance with Washington.

President Putin is scheduled to hold formal talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.

"The key feature of this visit will be the signing of the agreement to deliver S-400 air defense systems," Vladimir Putin's top foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov has said ahead of the visit.

Saying the deal is at a stage where it can be finalized, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman pointed out last week that, We have a big legacy of buying defense equipment from Russia.

India says it needs the missile system that provides high altitude protection from incoming missiles to bolster its defenses against China and Pakistan. The Russian-built S-400 is capable of intercepting and destroying airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers.

New Delhi is hoping for a waiver from the United States, which passed a law last year placing automatic sanctions on countries dealing with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors. With an eye on China, New Delhi and Washington have been building a closer partnership.

Source: Voice of America