The US threat of sanctions will not delay Russia’s delivery of S-400 air defence systems to India and the two sides have worked out alternative arrangements for payments, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Wednesday.
Russia believes India’s role in the development of Afghanistan is “indispensible”, Ryabkov told a small group of Indian journalists, days after U.S. President Donald Trump mocked India’s development aid for the war-torn country.
Moscow has said it won’t be pressured by US sanctions while finalising big-ticket military hardware deals with New Delhi. Russian officials have said the first delivery under the $5.4-billion deal for the S-400 systems will be made in 2020.
“You may rest assured our commitments and obligations under the contract would be fully honoured and India would receive this system as agreed upon in due time and without any delays. Thus, the national security of the country would be enhanced substantially,” Ryabkov said, without setting a time frame for deliveries.
Indian and Russian experts dealing with military deals have “almost all necessary tools”, including alternative ways of payments, he said, adding it will be counter-productive to publicly discuss schedules for payments.
“The political message is important though – we want to be immune to the arbitrary and unilateral measures that are taken by some countries against very legitimate forms of international cooperation,” said Ryabkov.
Russia, he said, understands India’s “essential role in Afghanistan” and welcomes the country’s participation in all efforts aimed at reconciliation and peaceful resolution of the situation. “We are very much in sync with India on this very important issue,” he said.
Development and sustainability of institutions is key in countries affected by war and the “Indian effort in material support to Afghanistan is an indispensible one and of utmost importance”, he added.
Ryabkov also said it is necessary to have a dialogue with the Taliban “to understand better where they are”. He added: “This conflict should be concluded and the only way out is a political one.”
© 2019 the Hindustan Times (New Delhi)
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