India on Thursday said discussions are going on with the US on the S-400 missile defence deal, a day after US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman expressed unease over New Delhi’s procurement of the Russian weapons system.
“This has been under discussion between our two countries for some time. It was raised and we have discussed it and explained our perspective. And discussions on this are ongoing,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
He was replying to a question on Sherman’s comments on Wednesday on the India-Russia deal.
Sherman, on a three-day visit to India, told journalists that any decision on possible sanctions on the S-400 deal will be made by President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The issue of India procuring the S-400 missile system from Russia figured in Sherman’s wide-ranging talks with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Wednesday and both sides hoped to find a way out on the issue through dialogue.
“We’ve been quite public about any country that decides to use the S-400. We think that is dangerous and not in anybody’s security interest. That said, we have a strong partnership with India,” Sherman said.
“We want to be very thoughtful about the ways ahead, and discussions between our countries try to solve problems and I hope we will be able to in this instance as well,” she said.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary on Tuesday said that the first batch of S-400 missile defence system will arrive in India from Russia by this year.
The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for the purchase of S-400 missile defences from Russia.
In October 2018, India had signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, despite a warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.
India made the first tranche of payment of around USD 800 million to Russia for the missile systems in 2019. The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
Following US sanctions on Turkey, there have been apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures against India.
Russian ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said in April that both Russia and India do not recognise bilateral sanctions as they are “illegal tools” of “unlawful and unfair” competition and pressure.