India started paying for the state-of-the-art Russian S-400 air defense missile systems it ordered, as the United States failed to pressure the country into scrapping the major arms deal with Moscow, RT reports.
Russia has received an advanced payment for the weapon systems, the spokesperson for the FSVTS, the government agency responsible for coordinating arms trades, confirmed on Thursday. Russia and India sealed the $5.4bn deal in October after lengthy talks. Moscow is now due to ship five batteries of the S-400s by 2023.
The contract is a headache for the US, which has tried to pressure India into scrapping the sale. Officials in New Delhi, however, maintain that the S-400 is essential for national defense and have decided to stick with the purchase, despite the risk of violating US sanctions on Russia, RT adds.
Washington also tried to dissuade its NATO ally, Turkey from buying S-400s from Moscow. Ankara also refused to budge, insisting it is free to choose the countries it purchases weapons from. Turkey began receiving components of the S-400s last month.
India has also ordered 21 new MiG-29 jet fighters from Russia and, on Wednesday, signed an agreement to upgrade the MiGs it already has, RT noted.