US sanctions aimed at affecting India-Russia defence ties, says Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev

The ambassador has said the US is looking to replace Russia as India's largest defence supplier.

US sanctions aimed at affecting India-Russia defence ties, says Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File picture)

(Reporting by Sidhant Sibal)

Russia has accused the US of taking steps specifically aimed at reducing Russia's defence, military and political ties with India. In an interview to Russian international news agency RIA Novosti, Moscow's ambassador to New Delhi Nikolay Kudashev said the sanctions that the US has imposed on Russia are among other things aimed at replacing Moscow as a key ally of New Delhi.

The US sanctions against Russia also target organisation and countries which have strategic, defence and military ties to Russia. Top US officials have appealed to members of the US Congress to take steps to ensure India is not affected by these sanctions since India, despite the bulk of its hardware coming from Russia, is rising as an important defence and strategic ally for the US.

The American have been clear that India cannot be expected to abruptly get rid of all the military hardware and fighter jets it has purchased from Russia over the decades. This has come even as a number of top US defence industry players have been looking to make huge sales to India, which is the world's top arms importer.

"A distinctive feature of the present time is the sanctions against Russian producers, which are a means of unfair competition and which are pursuing the goal of driving Russia out of the Indian defence sector and its military and political space," Kudashev said in his interaction with RIA Novosti.

He added that Russia is "ready for equitable, fair and open competition" but sanctions and what the US is doing "is not a competition, it is something opposite to competition." He acknowledged that the US sanctions do pose difficulties of a certain kind. "These difficulties are surmountable. We are searching for the solution of these problems and undoubtedly it will be found," he said. 

Kudashev also struck an upbeat note on ties between India and Russia. He said the two counties "remain closest partners, and all our defence industry agreements are being implemented." Among the deals and projects he was referring to is India's likely purchase of the advanced S-400s air defence system and the proposed joint production of Kamov Ka-226 helicopters. 

Kudashev's remarks come even as India and the US prepare for the '2+2' meet between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries on September 6. India will, soon after the US meet, also take part in its 19th annual summit with the Russian leadership.