India's Defiance of US at Indo-Russian Summit Has A Positive Message For Iran

New Delhi, Oct 6, IRNA - A distinguished Indian political commentator believes India's signing of a significant missile deal with Russia carries a message of independence in decision making for the US.

In a piece written exclusively for IRNA on Saturday on the political dimensions of the two-day visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to India which concluded in Friday, Rajeev Sharma commented 'The biggest diplomatic message that India has sent through its 19th annual summit with Russia in New Delhi on 5 October, 2018 is to the United States: that New Delhi will continue to chart a different course irrespective of the US sanctions on Russia. India has already come up with a defiant foreign policy on the issue of Iran in a similar vein.

At the Indo-Russian bilateral summit, the visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick started a new era of defence relationship between the two countries as they signed fresh defence deals worth 7 billion dollars, including a $5.2 billion deal for purchase of Russian S-400 surface to air missiles, the delivery of which is expected to start in four years.

By doing so, India has dared the mighty US and conveyed a stern message to Washington that it would be conducting its foreign policy within the parameters of its own national interest and not succumb to any external pressures even if such pressures were to come from the world's sole superpower – the US.

The bold Indian decision has come close on the heels of the first-ever 2+2 talks in New Delhi involving foreign and defence ministers of the two sides, wherein the Americans had reiterated to India to be mindful of the US sanctions on Russia and Iran and not do any business with either. India had rejected the American stance, citing its policy of honouring only those sanctions which are approved by the United Nations and not the sanctions by any individual country. The American sanctions on Russia and Iran do not fall in that category.

As a result, India went ahead with its stated foreign policy matters and refused to be cowed down by US pressures. India had defied the Americans on the sanctions issue with respect to Iran earlier and has kept up with the same stance with respect to Russia now.

This means that the ball is in the American court now even as the second and more rigorous phase of American sanctions on Russia and Iran are scheduled to kick in on November 4.

What happens now? Is USA going to give a waiver to India for its S400 missile deal with Russia? There are only two ways that the US may react: take punitive measures on a defiant India or simply look the other way and allow the Indians to conduct their foreign policy vis a vis the Russians and the Iranians the way they want to.

India hopes that the Trump administration will give it a waiver on the weapons systems which New Delhi sees as a deterrent against China whose growing military muscle has bothered the Americans in a big way. The chances for the Trump administration looking the other way seem more likely.

The bold Indian attitude is likely to hold sway. How? See the first response from the US:

In its first reaction to the Indo-Russian defence deals from the American embassy in New Delhi, the US said that the sanctions on Russia were intended to impose costs for its 'malign behaviour' and not 'impose damage to the military capabilities of our allies or partners'. Significantly, it also said that it cannot prejudge any sanctions decisions, and that the waivers, if any, will be considered on a transaction-by-transaction basis.

This is an indication of the likely official response from the US. After all, the Americans need India to counter China in multiple ways on multiple platforms. The US cannot think of taking on China over the ticklish South China Sea issue and many other issues without India's support. China's biggest enemy Japan may well be an American ally but Japan is proving to be far too inadequate for the Americans for taking on China.'

The seasoned analyst of world strategic affairs concluded by saying that 'the Indian bold stance of going ahead with a robust defence partnership with a US sanctions-hit country like Russia also conveys a clear message to another victim of US sanctions: Iran. The message is loud and clear: that India can stand with its all avowed strategic partners, no matter how they are being hounded by the US-led western world: be it Russia or Iran.'
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