NEW DELHI: Two days after India signed a multi-billion-dollar deal with Russia to procure S-400 Trimuf S-400 air defence system despite the looming threat of US sanctions, Army chief General Bipin Rawat stressed that the country follows an independent policy. The armed forces were also keen on getting the Kamov helicopters and other weapon systems from Moscow, he added.
General Rawat returned on Saturday night after a six-day visit to Russia where he held talks with the Russian military officers to enhance cooperation between the two countries. The Army chief said the Russians were very keen in associating with the Indian Army and defence forces “because they do understand that we are a strong Army, capable of standing up to what is right for us, based on our strategic thought-process”.
Recounting his exchange with a Russian naval officer over “India looking westwards at America, which has put sanctions on Russia”, General Rawat said he replied to the officer that Washington had also threatened to impose restrictions on New Delhi for dealing with Moscow. “Yes, we do appreciate that there could be sanctions on us, but we follow an independent policy,” he said.
Seeking to assuage Russian concerns over its growing ties with the US, the Army chief told the Russians to be rest assured that “while we may be associating with America in getting some technology, but we follow an independent policy”.
The Trimuf deal could lead to sanctions being slapped against India under the Countering American Activities Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). India and Russia concluded the deal on Friday during President Putin’s visit notwithstanding the US warning that it would be a “focus area” for it to implement punitive sanctions against a nation undertaking “significant” business deals with the Russians.
(With PTI inputs)