Indian Ambassador to Moscow Bala Venkatesh Varma said Monday that Russia has moved back again as the top defense partner of India.
“There has been a fundamental change in how our defense relationship has moved on in the last 3 years. Russia has moved back again as the top defense partner of India,” Varma was quoted as saying by Russian government-owned TASS during an interview.
“We have major defense contracts already under implementation. The S-400 is one of them,” the official added.
Varma's comments come days after U.S. Senators and India Caucus Co-Chairs Mark Warner and John Cornyn urged President Biden to waive sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against India for its purchase of S-400s. Washington hasn’t spared even Turkey, its NATO ally, from these sanctions.
Warner and Cornyn said that the Congress established criteria for determining the appropriateness of waiving CAATSA sanctions. The Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allows the President to issue a waiver if doing so is in the national interest and if it would not affect U.S.’ national security, its military operations and compromise its defense systems.
Talking about defense cooperation with India, Varma added, “We also have a contract relating to the manufacture and production of 1135.6 frigates…. The production of more than 700,000 AK-203 rifles, will be done in India. It’s a Make in India program. We are going to buy an additional Su 30-MKI as well as additional MiG-29s and 400 more T-90 tanks.”
The senators added that while they shared the administration's concern regarding the S-400 purchase and the continued Indian integration of Russian equipment, such transactions between New Delhi and Moscow were declining. From 2016 to 2020, there was a 53% drop in India’s import of Russian arms, compared to the preceding five-year period. India has also shown interest in purchasing American equipment with sales reaching $3.4 billion in FY20.