India risks USA sanctions with $5-bln purchase of Russian missiles

Novichok Victim Sergei Skripal Branded 'Scumbag' Traitor By Vladimir Putin

Novichok Victim Sergei Skripal Branded 'Scumbag' Traitor By Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive here Thursday on a two-day visit during which India and Russia are likely to sign a deal to procure S-400 air defence systems and deliberate on key regional and global issues, including United States sanctions on import of Iranian crude oil.

India and Russian Federation will sign the missile deal, estimated at more than $5 billion, during Putin's visit for annual summit talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi beginnning on Thursday, a Kremlin aide said.

The U.S. administration is required under a domestic law, Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) to impose sanctions on any country that has "significant transactions" with Iran, North Korea or Russian Federation.

Putin will arrive at the national capital at around 6:30 PM and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence in an hour, the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed. The two will also discuss the U.S. sanctions against Russian Federation and cooperation on counter-terrorism.

However, the United States is in a hard position when it comes to India. Besides defence, the summit also produced deals on gas, oil and nuclear energy. It wants to bolster ties with New Delhi to counter China's growing assertiveness, something that has also rattled India.

Last year India and China had a military standoff over a Himalayan plateau claimed by Beijing and Bhutan, a close ally of India.

Indian Air Force Chief Birender Singh Dhanoa said Wednesday that the S-400, and the 36 Rafale fighter jets purchased from France - a 2016 deal mired in political controversy - represent a "booster dose" for the country.

"India has maintained its sovereignty as regards to its relationship with countries".

Highlighting the discussion on the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India, Putin said the two countries agreed that 12 nuclear power plant units will be built in India in 20 years using advanced Russian technologies. Moscow is now expanding India's biggest nuclear power plant in Kudankulam.

Rakesh Sharma, the only Indian to travel in space, did so on a Soviet spacecraft in 1984.

"The administration is not only trying to navigate competing geopolitical interests but relatively stringent conditions imposed by a Congress determined to tie its hands on Russian Federation policy".

"India gives the highest priority to ties with Russian Federation, in fact in a changing world, our ties have become more important", Modi said. He is also scheduled to interact with a group of talented children.

It is expected that the talks will also confirm Russia-India joint military exercise, Indra 2018, which will be held from November 18 to 28.

Afghanistan though has been a sticking point, experts say, where Moscow wants to engage Taliban in the peace process - a prospect unacceptable to India.

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