Russia has begun deliveries of its long-range S-400 ground-to-air missile defence system to India, according to New Delhi’s foreign secretary.
“Supplies have begun this month and will continue to happen,” Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Monday after a visit to New Delhi by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The supply of S-400 systems is a result of a deal signed between Russia and India in 2018 and could put the latter at risk of sanctions by the United States, which has warned the New Delhi government various times over the deal.
Last month, Russian media reported that Moscow started delivering the first of the S-400s to India, citing Dmitry Shugayev, head of the Russian military cooperation agency, who said the first S-400 unit will have arrived in India by the end of this year.
The $5.5bn deal was for five long-range surface-to-air missile systems, which India has said it needs to counter a threat from China.
India could face a range of financial sanctions from the US under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which names Russia as an adversary alongside North Korea and Iran for its actions against Ukraine, interference in the US 2016 elections and support to Syria.
New Delhi has said it has a strategic partnership with both the US and Russia.
Last year, the US imposed sanctions – citing CAATSA – on NATO ally Turkey for acquiring Russian S-400 missiles. The sanctions targeted the main Turkish defence procurement and development body, Presidency of Defence Industries.
Washington also removed Turkey from an F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, the most advanced aircraft in the US arsenal, used by NATO members and other US allies.