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Despite America’s disapproval, India speeds up the acquisition of Russian defence missile systems

India is now swiftly moving towards acquiring five advanced S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems from Russia despite the looming threat of US sanctions, with the defence ministry clearing the decks for the proposed Rs 39,000 crore deal.

On Thursday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chaired the defence acquisitions council (DAC), which gave its approval to the minor deviations in the deal, sources told a news agency. Interestingly, the DAC meeting took place a day after the US “postponed” the key 2+2 dialogue between Sitharaman and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, and their respective US counterparts.

“The S-400 procurement case will now go to the finance ministry for clearance and the PM-led Cabinet Committee on Security for the final nod. The country’s top political leadership will have to take a call on when the actual contract can be inked,” said a source.

The  S-400 missile systems have the capacity to locate, track and destroy strategic bombers, spy aircraft, missiles, drones and stealth fighters at a range and altitude of 400 km and 30 km, respectively.

The inter-governmental agreement for the five S-400 systems was inked during the Modi-Putin summit at Goa in October 2016. Even as India and Russia were putting the finishing touches on the complex S-400 contract ahead of the next Modi-Putin summit in October this year, Washington jumped into the fray to warn New Delhi against going ahead with the deal.

India and Russia have worked on a roadmap to get around the financial sanctions flowing out of the recent US law called CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act) that seeks to deter countries from buying Russian weapons.

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