NEW DELHI/MOSCOW – India is considering the option of urging Russia to ramp up the delivery of its advanced extremely long-range S-400 air defense missile systems, a defense ministry source said on condition of anonymity. It’s believed that Moscow had planned to delay delivery until December 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Sputnik reported.
The speeding up the delivery of the $5.4-billion air defense missile systems, for which India completed a large payment last year, is expected to be discussed during Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s slated bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart General Sergei Shoigu.
While leaving for Moscow to participate in the Victory Day parade on June 24, the Indian Defense Minister tweeted that his visit is an opportunity to further deepen the India-Russia defense and strategic partnership, which is especially important for India due to its relations with China.
The Indian government’s decision to send the defense minister to participate in Moscow’s 75th Victory Day parade comes in the wake of India’s planned purchase of 33 fighter jets, including 12 Su-30MKI and 21 MiG-29, from Russia under an emergency order and amid border clashes between India and China in the Ladakh region in the far north of the country.
India is also considering the event as an opportunity to engage with Russia during this critical juncture because Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe is also likely to be present at the event. Russia and China share strong defense ties and adding to India’s concern, Beijing has already acquired its own S-400 systems from Moscow.
Defense Minister of India Rajnath Singh is also scheduled to meet Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, who also handles military and aerospace affairs. India hopes that Russia could pressure New Delhi and Beijing, or at least act as a moderator and help defuse the tensions between two Asian nuclear powers.