Russian, Defense

India may close a major defense deal with Russia as early as next week, when Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will make her first trip to Moscow. The deal covers two S-400 air defense systems, which include radar, missile launchers and command center technology.

Why it matters: In August 2017, President Trump signed into law the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against Russia. Because the sanctions target any country trading with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, India’s pending deal may put it on a collision course with the U.S.

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The background: Approximately 60% of India’s defense inventory is Russian-made, a legacy of India’s Cold War–era relationship with the Soviet Union. While the U.S. has become its second largest defense supplier — mainly of aircraft and artillery — India still relies heavily on Russian equipment, such as submarines and missiles, that the U.S. has been unwilling to provide.

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 By ULRICH KÜHN  

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