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India's defence procurement guided by national security interests: MEA

NEW DELHI (PTI): India pursues an independent foreign policy and its defence acquisitions are guided by its national security interests, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday, amid apprehensions over the possibility of US sanctions on New Delhi over the procurement of S-400 missile systems from Russia.

The response by MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi came at a media briefing when asked to comment on India's position on the matter and whether it figured in a meeting of foreign ministers of India, Russia and China.

"India and the US have a comprehensive global strategic partnership and India has a special and privileged strategic partnership with Russia. We also pursue an independent foreign policy. This applies to our defence acquisition and supplies which are guided by our national security interests," Bagchi said.

At a virtual meeting, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed that the imposition of unilateral sanctions beyond those adopted by the UN Security Council was "inconsistent" with the principles of international law, according to a joint communique.

It, however, did not mention any specific case.

The foreign ministers of the three countries held the meeting under the Russia-India-China (RIC) framework.

"The ministers agreed that the imposition of unilateral sanctions beyond those adopted by the UNSC as well as 'long-arm jurisdiction' were inconsistent with the principles of international law, have reduced the effectiveness and legitimacy of the UNSC sanction regime," the communique said.

It said such sanctions had a negative impact on "third States and international economic and trade relations".

The ministers also called for further consolidation and strengthening of the working methods of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee to ensure their "effectiveness, responsiveness and transparency".

Alexander Mikheyev, the head of Russia's state-run military firm Rosoboronexport, said last week that Moscow has started delivery of the components of the S-400 air defence missile systems to India.

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.

The Biden administration has not yet clarified whether it will impose sanctions on India under the provisions of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for procuring the S-400 missile systems.

The CAATSA, which was brought in 2017, provides for punitive actions against any country engaged in transactions with Russian defence and intelligence sectors.

The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the CAATSA for the purchase of a batch of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

Following the US sanctions on Turkey over the procurement of S-400 missile systems, there were apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures on India.

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