India has agreed a $5 billion deal to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system despite the possibility that the move may trigger US sanctions.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deal in Delhi on Friday.
The S-400 is a sophisticated surface-to-air defence system with a range of 400km. The system can shoot down up to 80 airborne targets simultaneously, aiming two missiles at each one. China has previously also purchased the S-400 from Russia.
On an international level, India has requested US sanctions to punish Russia be waivered, including those relating to the annexation of Crimea. The US did not waiver from imposing sanctions on China last months after it purchased Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missiles.
The US has had to exercise restraint when it comes to India as Washington and New Delhi have announced plans for joint military drills in 2019 and agreed to exchange confidential military information. India is also the second biggest arms importer from the US, just behind Russia.
The Indian government says it plans to undergo a $100 billion upgrade of its military hardware to counter potential threats from China and Pakistan. Closer economic ties between China and Pakistan have prompted India to increase spending on defence.
The meeting of the two heads of state was welcomed in India where it was said that Russia was India’s time-tested friend. The meeting is also being viewed as an effort to show solidarity against the US.