In what amounts to Russia's latest act of defiance against the US and its Western allies, and a sign that India is slowly moving away from the US sphere of influence, New Delhi has signed a $5.4 billion deal for the delivery of five S-400 weapons systems, one of Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapons, RT reported. The deal risks provoking more sanctions against Russia from the US. The arms deal was finalized at a summit involving Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi.
Because of the purchase, India now risks being sanctioned under Washington’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which prohibits the purchase of arms from Russia. After his meeting with Modi, Putin said during a joint press conference that Russia would work with India to boost bilateral cooperation in the UN, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the G20. Putin added that the two countries would coordinate counter-terrorism efforts, and the two leaders also signed a deal on space cooperation, with Modi saying that he hoped Russia would help India send astronauts into space by 2022.
The two countries also plan to cooperate on counter-terrorism efforts in Syria, as well as the status of the Iran nuclear deal. Russia has always "stood shoulder-to-shoulder with India in the energy sector and our goals," Putin said.
The arms deal was signed during a period of increased trade between Russian and India, with total trade exceeding $9 billion last year. That figure is expected to rise as the two countries hope to encourage cross-border investment. By 2030, Putin said, he hopes to increase trade to $30 billion and investments by $15 billion.
"We have set a target of increasing trade turnover to $30 billion...and increasing investments to $15 billion by 2025," Putin said during a press conference with Modi on Friday. The Russian president is in India on a two-day official visit. Putin said the expansion of trade and investment interactions is a priority for both nations. He noted that "if we move at such pace, we will reach the target ahead of time and will continue expansion."
Already, trade between Russia and India has increased by 20% so far this year during the period between January and July, with $6 billion in goods exchanged, per RT.
Last month, New Delhi suggested setting up a special economic zone for Russian companies. Earlier, the two countries discussed creating a ‘green corridor’ for the smooth transit of goods.
India's drift from Washington will likely be seen by the Trump administration as a betrayal, giving the US government little incentive to hold back on the sanctions that are legally mandated by CAATSA. But Russia probably believes this is to their advantage; As Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this week, US sanctions against friends and allies only serve to undermine the dollar. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With India onboard, Russia and China will gain a crucial ally in their push to build an alternative to the global dollarized financial system.