India stands firm on S-400 purchase: Defence needs are determined independently says envoy to Moscow

NEW DELHI: Indian envoy to Moscow Bala Venkatesh Varma has asserted that New Delhi makes its defence choices independently and based on its security needs and its key partners are aware of this fact indicating that the Modi government is going ahead with purchase of S-400 missile defence system considered best in its category.

“Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke in detail about the essence of the Russian-Indian partnership at a press conference on January 18. He called it very close, special and privileged and strategic, which is a very accurate description. As for your question about military-technical cooperation, India-Russia ties go back decades. This is one of the pillars of our strategic partnership. India also has a global strategic partnership with the US. New Delhi’s relations with each country are independent. India has an independent policy, and we make every decision in the military sphere in accordance with the interests of our defense and national security. This principle is relevant for military-technical cooperation with all our partners,” Varma said in an interview with Russian state news agency TASS.

“All our partners are aware of India’s defense policy and needs. For any country it should not be a surprise that India is making decisions on its defence policy independently, in accordance with its own needs in defense and security,” Varma said in response to a query on threat of US sanctions following purchase of S-400 systems.

When asked about India’s resolve to go ahead with the S-400 purchase, Varma said, “I will only say that all of our partners in military-technical sphere know about the policy and the defence needs of India.”

An Indian Air Force is currently in Russia undergoing training for S-400 systems

Referring to cooperation with regard to cooperation on vaccines, Varma said, “I’m very happy to tell you that I already received my first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine last week. I feel very well, there are no side effects. Many of my colleagues at the embassy have also been vaccinated, and many are going to do so. We believe that vaccination is part of normal precautions, such as wearing masks, maintaining social distance. After all, we are vaccinated against the flu in the same way.”

India is the BRICS chair in 2021. Varma noted, “India, as chairman of the BRICS, as always, wants to consolidate the association as a key international platform for cooperation in a multipolar world in order to change the situation in the economy and health after the pandemic, but also to strengthen the synergy of contacts between people. India will formally announce its priorities later, but this is the general direction in which we are moving.”

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