New Delhi: Disregarding the warnings of the United States sanctions, India on Friday signed a deal with Russia to acquire the $5-billion S-400 air defence missile system. The intentions were clear today as India and Russia concluded a deal for the supply of S-400 Triumf long-range surface-to-air missile system giving a substantial boost to air defence capabilities of the Indian Air Force.

The deal was concluded during the 19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, though both the leaders made no mention of it in their statement to the media, apparently in view of the sensitivities involving the United States that have been pressing India not to go ahead with the deal.

Nor was the missile contract part of the signing ceremony for eight deals inked by the two sides in the presence of the two leaders covering areas of space cooperation, railways, nuclear cooperation, fertilizers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME).

An indication of the missile deal being included came in the joint statement issued by the two sides shortly after the talks between the two leaders. “The (two) sides welcomed the conclusion of the contract for the supply of the S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile system to India,” said the joint statement.

The S-400 missile deal has been an issue of much speculation after the Trump administration’s law — Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) — came into effect in January aimed at countries doing business with Russian, Iranian and North Korean defence companies. Washington has so far declined to make an exception to India by way of a waiver.

India And Iran Relations

In a second snub to the US, India has contracted to import nine million barrels of Iranian oil in November. It is to be noted here that the US on Thursday reiterated its warning to all the purchasers of Iranian oil to bring it down to zero by November 4 or face imminent sanctions.

President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear accord, saying it had “failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb” and did not deal with Tehran’s “malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism”

The issue of the US putting fresh sanctions on Iran over its nuclear agreement after pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Tehran signed with the five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council, Germany, and the European Union also came up for discussion during the 19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit between Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin, who came to India on a two-day visit.

Earlier, the US had asked other countries to stop buying oil from Iran which sparked concern in New Delhi as the West Asian nation is a major supplier of crude oil to India.

India and Iran have long-standing political and economic ties. Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It was India’s second biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia till 2010-11 but Western sanctions over its suspected nuclear programme relegated it to the seventh spot in the subsequent years. In the 2013-14 and 2014-15, India bought 11 million tonnes and 10.95 million tonnes respectively from it.