WHO NEEDS AMERICA? India prioritizes nuclear, space and technology agreements with Russia

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NEW DELHI – India should diversify economic ties with Russia as new deals in the digital economy, nuclear power and space are due to be closed in September during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian ambassador to Russia said.

The diplomat made the remarks during a major Russian economic forum in St. Petersburg. In an interview with RT, Bala Venkatesh Varma, who was appointed India’s ambassador to Russia in August 2018, hailed “historically friendly time-tested relations” between the countries, but insisted that both nations “can do more.”

“The economic diversification of our relations is a priority, also in new sectors such as the digital economy, new areas in the nuclear sector, space, energy,” he said.

Most of the deals will be related to the development of Russia’s eastern regions, the official noted.

“The Far East is the priority for Russia and we take Russian priorities very seriously,” the ambassador said, adding that the Indian government is struggling to support the multilateral economic order in which the interests of all countries will be protected.

Prime Minister Modi will be the main guest of the Eastern Economic Forum, which will be held in September in Vladivostok, Russia’s largest city on the Pacific coast. The annual high-level event aims to foster Russian trade and joint projects with the Asia-Pacific region.

Moscow and New Delhi are enjoying fruitful economic cooperation, particularly in the military sphere. Last year, countries agreed to supply Russia’s S-400 missile systems worth $5.4 billion and sealed an agreement on four Russian guided missile frigates for the Indian Navy.

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Investments between countries exceed $30 billion, with officials hoping to increase this to $50 billion by 2025.

However, the United States once again reminded India of the possible consequences if the Asian country continued to buy the Russian S-400 missile defense system, despite New Delhi’s strong stance on preserving the agreement.

The US has pushed India to buy American equipment, offering Patriot and THAAD missiles as an alternative.

Washington constantly threatens India with retaliation under CAATSA issued by the US Congress to prevent the purchase of weapons from Russia. Despite the pressure, New Delhi remained defiant and made it clear that it would maintain the agreement. Indian Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat confirmed that the agreement would go ahead and insisted that his country would not know what to do since it “follows an independent policy.”

India and Russia have a long history of arms trade, with Moscow being the largest arms importer in New Delhi. Now the US, which is number 2, apparently want to change that.

So far, US threats have failed to prevent a steady stream of S-400 orders. Washington has put massive pressure on Turkey for a similar deal with Moscow. The country threatens to stop deliveries of its military equipment pre-ordered by Ankara and suspend training programs for Turkish fighter pilots. Despite this, Turkey expects the first batteries to be delivered this year.

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