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India Receives Initial Russian S-400s Amid US Opposition

India is set to take delivery of its first Russian S-400 anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile systems next month despite strong US opposition, according to a report by The Hindu, citing a senior Russian official.

Thousands of missile system containers are now reportedly being shipped to the Asian nation by air and sea. These packages include long-range acquisition and engagement radars, two missile batteries, and all-terrain transporter-erector vehicles.

According to a military source, the first squadron of the Russian S-400 systems will immediately be assembled and undergo “acceptance trials” upon delivery to India by next month.

Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defense system, the S-400, can detect, track, and destroy incoming enemy bombers, jets, spy planes, ballistic missiles, and drones at a range of up to 380 kilometers (236 miles).

A total of five squadrons of the weapon system are expected to be delivered to India by 2023. They will be deployed in the north and west of the country to address aerial threats along its borders with China and Pakistan.

Threat of US Sanctions

In 2018, India awarded a $5.43-billion contract to Russia for five of the S-400 air defense missile systems despite warnings that the agreement may trigger US sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

CAATSA allows the US government to impose sanctions on any country that acquires military hardware from Russia. The stringent law was passed in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.

Despite the threat of US sanctions, India proceeded with the deal, making its first payment of $800 million to Russia for the missile systems.

India remains confident that the administration of US President Joe Biden will issue a waiver this time on the grounds that the missile systems are an “urgent national security requirement” considering the ongoing conflict along its borders with China and Pakistan.

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