S-400 is the symbol of Indian sovereignty, hopes to secure naval and logistics deals next year (Russian diplomat)

Besides bilateral ties, Babushkin said Indo-Russian cooperation on multilateral issues has grown.

The agreement on the S-400 missile system is a symbol of the strength of India’s “sovereignty”, a Russian official said, denying that the agreement or other major agreements to be signed during the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit last Monday had been put on the backburner due to concerns over US sanctions.

During the one-day summit, which included a meeting between Mr. Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ministerial meetings, the two sides announced 28 agreements and issued a joint 99-point statement. However, key agreements that had been considered for signature during the meetings, including the Reciprocal Logistics Exchange Agreement (RELOS) and a Memorandum of Understanding for Navy-to-Navy cooperation by diplomats ahead of Mr. Putin, which led to speculation that New Delhi had chosen to wait for these and other agreements for fighter jets and short-range missiles until it became clearer whether the United States will impose sanctions on the delivery of the S-400 Triumf missile systems.

Read also: Stable and strong India-Russia partnership: Jaishankar

“The Summit has arrived at a very short time, and this is one of the main reasons why some particular agreements have not been concluded,” said Roman Babushkin, Russian deputy ambassador to India, denying any delay in the negotiations. negotiations. “All these agreements, including the Memorandum of Understanding for Naval Cooperation, RELOS, will be concluded as soon as possible when the two sides meet a few times over the next year,” he added, during an interview with The hindu.

Besides bilateral ties, Babushkin said that India-Russia cooperation on multilateral issues has grown, especially with India’s support for Russia’s bid to become an observer state during of the Non-Aligned Country (NAM) meeting this year, and Russian support for India at the SCO. Moscow is now discussing with the Modi government the holding of a “donors’ conference” among other initiatives that are part of a new roadmap for interaction on Afghanistan finalized during Putin’s visit, and also pleaded for India and Iran to be included in the Russia-US-China and Pakistan “Troika plus” mechanism from which New Delhi has long felt excluded.

Like The hindu had reported, the Modi government has yet to decide whether or not to send Indian officials to Kabul, but was considering its options given that around 10 countries, including Russia, have open missions there.

“Our presence in Kabul is very important for the security of the Russians there … We know that more countries are very keen to return, including the European Union, Germany, Indonesia and others, according to media reports. . So, in case the Indian side is interested in a serious discussion about the Indian presence in Afghanistan, the Russian side would be very open to any dialogue about supporting India, ”Babushkin said in the interview, where he described the results of the 21st India-Russia summit held last week.

Regarding India-Russia nuclear cooperation, he said the Kudankulam nuclear power plant project involving six reactors is either operational, under construction, or about to be started, and the government is awaiting New Delhi’s response on the second. site for a project of six VVER- 1200 reactors.

The US administration has yet to make it clear how it hopes to proceed with the Indian S-400 deal and whether US President Biden will use his power to lift sanctions against India in particular, as advocated. many members of the United States Congress. However, the spokesperson for the US State Department said there would be no “blanket” waiver for India, saying that even if the S-400 deal was not sanctioned, there would be no other “significant” military and nuclear transactions could still trigger sanctions under CAATSA.

“The S-400 decision is a very good example of advancing our defense and strategic partnership, and the strength of Indian sovereignty, to choose its international partners, especially when it comes to questions of national interest and national security, ”he added. a diplomat said, calling the US CAATSA sanctions law an “illegal tool of illegal competition” and added that Project S-400 was not aimed at the United States in any way. Confirming that delivery of the first of five S-400 systems from Russia is expected to be completed this month, he said India and Russia are discussing how to use the alternative Rupee-Ruble system for payments. that would not be hampered by sanctions. . In 2018, the United States sanctioned China and in 2020 Turkey sanctioned for purchasing the S-400, and placing defense entities and officials under financial and visa bans.

(with contributions from Dinakar Peri)

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