Army Chief Says, Critical For India To Find Ways to bypass US sanctions against Russia

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New Delhi: In view of the United State’s sanctions, Army chief General Bipin Rawat has said that it is critical that India finds ways to bypass the US sanctions against Russia given that Russian arms an ammunitions are widely used in the Indian armed forces.

In his first comments on US sanctions against India’s top arms supplier, Rawat said: “We have to pursue own national interests and see what’s good for us. India has a large quantity of Russian weapons and platforms. So there are legacy issues.”

India is in talks with the United States to secure a sanctions waiver as its military is heavily dependent on Russian equipment, and the matter is likely to be discussed during the proposed 2+2 talks between the defence and foreign ministers of the two sides, said a person familiar with the development who asked not to be identified.The dialogue was to begin in Washington on July 6 but the US postponed it (for the third time) because its secretary of state Mike Pompeo had to visit North Korea.

The US sanctions could be bypassed through an alternative payment route to sustain bilateral Indo-Russian defence trade, said Rawat. “It’s not just about new equipment, other aspects such as spares, servicing and technical support are equally important,” the army chief said.Russian-origin equipment forms the backbone of the army’s armoured and mechanised infantry units.

The US passed the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act earlier this year. The new US legislation does provide some flexibility for countries such as India that are dependent on Russian equipment, but Washington wants India to diversify its suppliers of military equipment and reduce dependence on Russian military hardware.

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