India acquiring the S-400 missile defence system from Russia is a “problem” for the US, a top American commander has said, asserting that Washington will continue to hold dialogue with New Delhi over the issue.
India inked an agreement with Russia last October to procure a batch of the S-400 missile systems at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore. “India acquiring the S-400. Its a Russian air defense system from Russia. That’s a bit of a problem. But we continue dialogue. I think they intend to do that,” Admiral Philip Davidson, who is Commander of Indo-Pacific Command, told Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
Davidson’s remarks came response to a question from Nick Burns, a former top American diplomat who played a key role in the India-US civilian nuclear deal.
He said that he is trying to clarify to India that the purchase of Russian air defense systems is unprofitable for it. US equipment is outperforming on the globe, he asserted.
“India is quite proud of their nonaligned policy status. They view this discussion about the AS-400 as a policy issue and not a technical tactical and a technical one. So, we’ve got a little bit of ways to go there. I tell people all the time we are on a 10,000-step journey with India. We are on step 109 (of 10,000),” he said.
Last year, he said the US signed a very important agreement that helps the two countries exchange information and intelligence.
“It’s really a technical agreement. But it allows us, it has allowed us to do some operational collaboration and some planning with India that has opened their eyes and improving our relationship quite quickly to the point they’re telling me now to hurry up,” he said.
Referring to the increased defence trade with India, Davidson said India is now the largest buyer and the largest possessor of C-17 lift aircraft in the globe besides the United States, and they buy those from the United States.
“My peers in India grew up under Soviet training and then Russia sustainment for years and years. They certainly see the value of the engagements with us and are interested in moving forward with us. Are there rifts in that? You know, certainly there’s the issue of S-400 out there, we are still in dialogue with them about that,” he said.