Why in news?
=>India signed the much-anticipated deal worth $5.43-billion to buy five Russian S-400 Triumf missile shield systems at the 19th India-Russia annual bilateral summit at the Hyderabad House.
=>India Russia signed the S-400 deal despite warnings from the United States that the move could attract sanctions on India under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) passed by the US Congress on arms purchases from Russia.
=>Both the sides signed eight pacts in areas ranging from defence, railways nuclear energy, space and economy.
=>A crucial MoU was signed between Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Federal Space Agency of Russia ‘ROSCOSMOS’ on joint activities in the field of human spaceflight programme Gaganyaan.
=>In the field of agriculture, a pact was signed between Russia’s PhosAgro the world’s leading producer of phosphate-based nutrients and Indian Potash Ltd. The Indian company has agreed to import up to 2 million tonnes of fertilisers worth USD 1 billion (over Rs 7,300 crore) from PhosAgro, over the next three years.
=>An MoU was also signed between India’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Russia’s SIRIUS to further the Interaction between young people of India and Russia, especially schoolchildren.
=>India and Russia also agreed to enhance cooperation in information and communications technology, particularly in supercomputing, network security and related areas.
=>India also agreed to set up a fast track, single-window mechanism for quicker clearance of Russian investments in India named Russia+ in line with similar facilities available for Japan and South Korea.
=>Both sides have identified four key sectors such as energy, digital economy, startups and infrastructure for joint collaborations.
=>Both sides called for the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) through intensified efforts by finalizing pending issues related to customs authorities, development of road and rail infrastructure and financial facilitation through bilateral discussions, as well as discussions with other partner countries at the earliest.
Specifications of S-400 air defence missile system:
=>A missile defence system is intended to act as a shield against incoming ballistic missiles. The Russian-built S-400 Triumf identified by NATO as the SA-21 Growler, is the world’s most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range surface-to-air missile system, and is considered much more effective than the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system developed by the US.
=>The S-400 is a mobile system that integrates a multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and a command and control centre.
=>It can be deployed within five minutes, and is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.
=>It can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and ballistic and cruise missiles within a range of 400 km, at an altitude up to 30 km. It can simultaneously track 100 airborne targets, including super fighters such as the US-built F-35, and engage six of them at the same time.
=>The S-400 was made operational in 2007, and is responsible for defending Russia. It was deployed in Syria in 2015 to guard Russian and Syrian naval and air assets. Units have also been stationed in the Crimean peninsula.
Other nations interested in S-400?
=>China signed a deal with Moscow in 2015 to buy six battalions of the S-400 system, and deliveries began in January 2018.
=>Turkey and Saudi Arabia are among others negotiating for the S-400; Iraq and Qatar, too, have shown interest.
How it is important for India?
=>The Triumf missile deal with Russia will give India’s military a much-needed boost, which would act as a deterrent against China’s growing presence in the region and a superior edge over Pakistan. The S-400 Triumf missiles are extremely efficient to track and hunt down combat aircraft, even stealth planes, at unprecedented ranges.
=>It means India can take out an aircraft deep inside Pakistan or parts of Tibet. The prime targets are airborne early warning systems and electronic support aircraft which would have a multiplier effect on the capabilities the other side can field.
=>While the Chinese acquisition has been seen as a “gamechanger” in the region, the concern for India is limited because of the system’s range. However, the S-400 can play a crucial role in case of a two-front war.
=>It is also politically important in that it signals that India will not abandon Russia as a supplier because of US pressure. China has already been affected by the sanctions for buying weapons from Russia, including the S-400. US have also repeatedly warned NATO ally Turkey against its planned deployment of the S-400s.
=>The US said that CAATSA was not aimed at stymieing the military capabilities of its “allies or partners. Waivers of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) section 231 will be considered on a transaction-by-transaction basis.
=>The law is designed to punish Putin for the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, involvement in the Syrian civil war and alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
What is CAATSA?
=>In August 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which specifically targets Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
=>Title II of the Act seeks to punish Russia for its military intervention in Ukraine and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US Presidential elections, by taking aim at its oil and gas industry, defence and security sector, and financial institutions.
=>Section 231 empowers the US President to impose at least five of 12 listed sanctions, enumerated in Section 235 on persons engaged in a “significant transaction” with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors.
=>The US State Department has notified 39 Russian entities, “significant transactions” with which could make third parties liable to sanctions.
=>Almost all major Russian defence manufacturing and export companies/entities including Almaz-Antey Air and Space Defence Corporation JSC, the manufacturers of the S-400 system, are on the list.
Russian interests in India:
=>Russia invited India to look at energy blocks for exploitation in the Arctic region and the sparsely populated Russian Far East, neighbouring China.
=>Russia is to open an office of the Far East Agency in Mumbai to help Indian investments in the region especially in diamond mining.
=>To put economic ties on a stronger footing, Russia has evinced interest in collaboration in the railways and civilian aircraft manufacturing sectors.
Indian interests in Russia:
=>India is keen for its pharmaceutical companies to find a foothold in Russian markets. Both sides have set the target for increasing bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025 from $10.7 billion in 217-18.
=>India has an annual $6.5 billion trade deficit with Russia.
=>India “invited Russian companies to participate in the development of industrial corridors in India, including in areas of road and rail infrastructure, smart cities, construction of wagons and creation of a joint transportation logistics company.
Success of India-Russia Relations:
=>Both India and Russia continue to trade with Iran despite the threat of sanctions although, since June, Indian refiners have steadily cut purchases of Iranian crude.
=>Trade volume between India and Russia in 2017 crossed $9bn and Putin announced that the two countries would set an ambitious target of $30bn by 2025.
=>In 2017, Russian oil major Rosneft purchased Indian refiner Essar Oil, the biggest foreign acquisition ever in India in a $12.9bn deal.
=>Strategically, Russia has facilitated India’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and endorsed India’s long-held demand for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
=>Russia is also pushing for India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology.
=>Though Russia was the major supplier (around 80 per cent) of arms and ammunition to India during the Cold War, greater ties with the US shifted the focus towards the West. Now India has imported around $15 billion of arms from the US in the past 10 years.
=>Even though India’s current government has pursued closer ties with US since it came to power four years ago. Relations between India and Russia had taken a backseat.
=>But Russia still remains India’s biggest military equipment supplier, accounting for 62 percent of India’s total weapons imports during the past five years, according to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute.
=>The bulk of India’s military equipment is of Soviet/Russian origin including the nuclear submarine INS Chakra, the supersonic Brahmos cruise missile, MiG and Sukhoi fighters, the Il transport aircraft, the T-72 and T-90 tanks, and the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.
=>The deal signed is a setback to US efforts to isolate Russia and it would now have to choose between punishing India or agreeing to a waiver. This would reinforce the continued strength of a Russia-India partnership even amid a growing US-India relationship.
=>If the US takes the dramatic step of punishing India, which it describes as a key strategic partner, simply for concluding an arms deal with Russia, then that could raise questions as to how serious the US really is about its partnership with India.
Pic courtesy:India Today
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