India on Tuesday made it clear to the United States that its "tried and tested" relationship with Russia in defence sector, including the deal for S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for the IAF, will continue despite the US sanctions against Moscow.
“In all our engagements with the US, we have clearly explained how India and Russia’s defence cooperation has been going on for a long time and that it is a time-tested relationship. We have mentioned that CAATSA cannot impact the India-Russia defence cooperation,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference.
Sitharaman said that over the last few decades, India has got a lot of defence equipment from Russia and the cooperation between the two countries will continue notwithstanding US sanctions.
On being asked whether India will go ahead with the S-400 deal with Russia, the defence minister responded in positive and said the long-drawn negotiations relating to it have reached final stage.
“The S-400 deal has been on for a very long time and we have reached the final stage of negotiations. That explains it,” she said.
According to the sources, India wants its defence transactions with Russia to be insulated from the purview of stringent American law CAATSA. India is likely to raise the issues during the 2+2 meeting scheduled to be held next month.
India wants to procure the long-range missile systems at any cost to tighten its air defence mechanism, particularly along the nearly 4,000-km-long Sino-India border.
Some highly placed official sources said that both the countries may announce the deal before the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in October.
In January, the US had announced sanctions against Russia under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for Moscow’s alleged meddling in the country's presidential election in 2016.
CAATSA, which came into effect in January, mandates the Donald Trump administration to punish countries and entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.
(With PTI inputs)