Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu arrives in India today to meet with his Indian counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman, and participate in an intergovernmental panel on defence cooperation.
The visit comes as both countries deepen their strategic ties. New Delhi has significantly increased its purchases of Russian weapon systems, with a recent $5 billion deal that includes the S-400 missile defence system. Such purchases have caused alarm in the US, which is seeking its own stronger security ties with India. While the US may not impose sanctions on an ally for its purchase of Russian weapons, it could revoke India’s ability to purchase restricted US weapons, such as predator drones, due to concerns about technology transfers to Moscow.
Despite both Moscow and New Delhi stressing that such cooperation is natural because they operate similar defence systems, Washington is unlikely to be deterred from further scrutinising the relationship. Expect both ministers to stress the technical nature of their discussions, and India to allay US concerns in order to secure sanctions waivers.