Any country deciding to use the S-400 missiles is “dangerous” and not in anybody’s security interest, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday (October 6) referring to Washington’s position on the matter even as she hoped that the US and India will be able to resolve differences over New Delhi’s procurement of the Russian weapons system. Sherman told a small group of journalists that any decision on possible sanctions on the S-400 deal will be made by President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary on Tuesday said that the first batch of S-400 missile defence system will arrive in India from Russia by this year.
Indian government sources said the issue of India procuring the S-400 missile system from Russia figured in Sherman’s wide-ranging talks with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and that both sides hoped to find a way out on the issue through dialogue. “We’ve been quite public about any country that decides to use the S-400. We think that is dangerous and not in anybody’s security interest. That said, we have a strong partnership with India,” Sherman said.
“We want to be very thoughtful about the ways ahead, and discussions between our countries try to solve problems and I hope we will be able to in this instance as well,” she said while replying to a question on the issue. The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for purchase of S-400 missile defences from Russia.In October 2018, India had signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, despite a warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions. India made the first tranche of payment of around USD 800 million to Russia for the missile systems in 2019. The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
Following US sanctions on Turkey, there have been apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures on India. Russian ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said in April that both Russia and India do not recognise bilateral sanctions as they are “illegal tools” of “unlawful and unfair” competition and pressure. Sherman arrived in Delhi on Tuesday (October 5) on a three-day visit, nearly two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Biden in Washington. Besides holding talks with Shringla, she met NSA Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.