Despite pressure from the US, India and Russia Tuesday decided to further deepen their defence cooperation, with Moscow planning to set up a manufacturing unit producing Russian arms under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
This was decided during a bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Delhi. Lavrov was on a hurricane tour to India and left for Islamabad later in the day.
“We discussed prospective and additional manufacturing of Russian military equipment in India within the concept ‘Make in India’ … We are going to deepen our military and technical cooperation,” Lavrov said at a press conference jointly with Jaishankar.
On the issue of India buying S-400 missiles from Moscow, Lavrov said he “did not sense” any change in stance by New Delhi, indicating that the deal will be going through seamlessly.
This comes at a time when the Joe Biden administration has taken a hard stance against Russia as it has decided to continue with the Donald Trump-era policy of imposing Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on those countries that buy armaments from America’s foes.
The $5.2 billion S-400 air defence system deal between India and Russia has become a major cause of consternation between New Delhi and Washington. India has already apprised the US of the fact that the deal was finalised before CAATSA came into being in 2017.
“Here I didn’t see any changes from our Indian partners and friends… We didn’t discuss statements from the USA. We have a governmental committee on military-technical cooperation that has its own plans,” said Lavrov.
During the visit of US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to India last month, the US had raised the issue of India buying S-400 missiles from Moscow and he hinted at possible sanctions.