New Delhi: Russia will complete the delivery of all five units of the Russian S-400 Triumf air-defence missiles to India by 2025, a senior Russian diplomat said Friday.
“Russia will deliver the five systems of S-400 by 2025…All systems are now under production, some are in advanced stages,” said Roman Babushkin, deputy chief of mission, Russian Embassy, during a press conference here.
In an interview to ThePrint last week, Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev, who was also present at the press conference, said the first batch of S-400 will be delivered to India by the end of this year or early 2021.
The $5.5-billion deal was signed between New Delhi and Moscow in October 2018 during the 19th India-Russia annual bilateral meeting.
The deal, however, got entangled in a major controversy with the US threatening to impose sanctions on India under the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) legislation for procuring these missiles.
While India has said it would not be deterred by the sanctions and would go ahead with the deal due to its national security concerns, the US has kept up the pressure on India.
Last week, the US State Department hinted at imposing sanctions on India if it goes forward with the deal, saying there is “no blanket waiver” or “special protection” under the CAATSA legislation.
‘US’ Indo-Pacific strategy is divisive’
On the Indo-Pacific strategy, Kudashev echoed the views of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and said the strategy “designed by the US” is “competitive and divisive”.
Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue Wednesday, Lavrov had slammed the Indo-Pacific concept, saying it’s an “archaic deterrence” and an attempt to divide the world and basically counter China.
He had also said the strategy is not inclusive at all as it does not include Africa and the Gulf region, which also share the Indian Ocean.
Kudashev said: “We’re concerned about such western concepts. Why is it needed?…This is a revisionist agenda and they (US) are trying to promote an alternative worldview. Many strategies are already present which are consultative and inclusive. Then why bring in new ones?”
He added that concepts such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and others already exist.
On Russian criticism of the Indo-Pacific, US deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger had said at the Raisina Dialogue Thursday that Indo-Pacific is a “global commons” and the concept has been expanded to include East Africa and the Oman region too.
He further accused the Russians of holding a joint naval exercise at the Gulf of Oman with China and Iran.
Meanwhile, Kudashev said External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will be visiting Vladivostok to attend the Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting scheduled to take place on 22-23 March.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit India later this year for the India-Russia bilateral meeting.