India finally signs lethal Russian missile deal
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India finally signs lethal Russian missile deal

Amid threat o sanctions from the United States, India went ahead to finally acquire the S-400 Triumf, the world's most lethal surface-to-air missile system from Russia. The deal was signed by the Prime Minister, Mr.  Narendra Modi,  and the visiting Russian, Mr.  President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi on Friday afternoon.

Mr Putin arrived in Delhi on Thursday on a two-day visit.

The US has hinted at tough sanctions against any nation that buys advanced military hardware from Russia, which itself had been an important supplier of defence hardware to India for decades.

'Russia has stood by India through time and has played a crucial role In India's growth story,' PM Modi said in a joint address after the bilateral meeting with Mr Putin.

Mr. Modi continued, 'In this fast-changing world, our ties have grown at a fast pace. With time, our mutual relations have gone from strength to strength.'

At the issue of the joint statement with Mr Putin, the Prime Minister said, 'We have agreed to step up cooperation with India in combating the menace of terrorism and drug trafficking.'

Mr Putin is being accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr.  Yuri Borisov, the Foreign Minister, Mr.  Sergey Lavrov and the Trade and Industry Minister, Mr.  Denis Manturov.

The S-400 is one of the most advanced long-range air defence systems and China, incidentally, was the first nation to acquire the missile system in 2014. Russia has already started deliveries of an undisclosed number of these to Beijing.

India  had already indicated that it will go ahead with the S-400 deal notwithstanding the US sanctions. 'As and when the government approves it, delivery (of the missiles) will be in 24 months,' the  Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa has told reporters.

Under a new law -- Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act or CAATSA -- the US imposes sanctions on any country that has 'significant transactions' with Iran, North Korea or Russia.

India and Russia also signed several agreements in space, nuclear energy and railways. And the two leaders reportedly discussed key regional and global issues, including US sanctions on import of Iranian crude oil.

The two have  agreed to cooperate to implement new nuclear power projects (NPPs). The pact is expected to be a big boost for the Make in India initiative as it will lead to manufacturing of nuclear fuel assemblies in India.

India is also planning to acquire 4 Krivak-class frigates from Russia, two of which will be built in India. Under the $2.5 billion deal, two ships will be built at the Goa shipyard and two will be acquired from Russia. India operates six similar frigates as of now. Russia is one of only two countries with which India holds annual bilateral summits, the other being Japan.

This is the third meeting between Mr.. Modi and Mr. Putin this year after their informal meeting in the Russian resort of Sochi in May and a bilateral on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa.