Deal for frigates & rifles hopefully in next 2-3 months: Russian envoy

Deal for frigates & rifles hopefully in next 2-3 months: Russian envoy
The Russian Ambassador to India, Nikolay Kudashev, said the USA’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (
CAATSA) sanctions will not impact the India-Russia deal for four frigates and Kalashnikov rifles, and suggested that an agreement would be signed in the next two-three months.

Kudashev said the two countries could now also consider concluding a logistics pact between their militaries and signing an agreement on the lines of
the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) for better coordination given breadth and depth of their military partnership. He was speaking to a select group of journalists on Thursday on the recently concluded Indo-Russian summit.

India and the US concluded the COMCASA during their 2+2 dialogue among their ministers for foreign affairs and defence last month.

Dismissing allegations that CAATSA had led to a delay in signing of a deal on frigates, he said there were certain procedural issues and that the deal would hopefully be signed over the next two-three months. He said that during President Putin’s recent visit to India, the two sides discussed a strategy to identify common priority areas and to protect mutual trade relationship from unpredictable factors such as CAATSA.

The Russian envoy’s comments came a day after the US President Donald Trump said that India would “find out soon” if the punitive CAATSA sanctions apply to it over its $5.4 billion deal with Russia to purchase S-400 Triumf air defence system. CAATSA is a US federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia.

India and Russia had last week inked the S-400 deal in Delhi during President Putin’s visit for the annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On a question on shelving of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), Kudashev said that India’s priority at present is S-400, frigates, helicopters and assault rifles but the FGFA deal will be back very shortly. “The deal for S-400 system was the single biggest military deal in history of defence partnership between the two countries,” he said.

More than two-thirds of the military hardware of Indian security forces – such as Sukhoi and MiG fighters, T-72 tanks and Kilo-class submarines – are of Soviet and Russian origin. Besides, Russia has leased nuclear submarine and supplier aircraft carrier to India, and jointly developed BrahMos missile with India.

The Indian Army is also planning to replace the ageing Soviet-era T-72 main battle tanks (MBT) with new generation battle tanks. According to media reports, India is interested in the next generation Russian MBT T-14 Armata.

The Modi government has already paved the way for one of the biggest purchases from Russia after the S-400 deal. Through the $2 billion frigates deal India plans to procure Admiral Grigorovich class frigates or advanced Talwar-class frigates from Russia. Under this deal, two of the ships will be manufactured at the Goa Shipyard while the remaining will be bought directly from Russia’s Yantar shipyard.

The Russian envoy said that at the summit the two countries also discussed the possibility of building an energy pipeline.