U.S.-India Defense Relations to Suffer if India Proceeds with Purchase of Russian S-400

Missile, illustration

A senior American diplomat has warned India that should the country opt to buy Russian S-400 defense systems, relations between Washington and New Delhi would deteriorate.

“At a certain point, a strategic choice has to be made about partnerships and a strategic choice about what weapons systems and platforms a country is going to adopt,” said Alice Wells, US principal deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, during hearings on US interests in South Asia and the budget for the fiscal year 2020.

Wells stressed that such a strategic decision could “effectively…limit India’s ability to increase our own interoperability,” voicing the U.S.’ concerns about a possible fallout as a result of the $5 billion procurement agreement India signed with Russia in October, RT reports.

The official also told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee for Asia that the United States aimed to capture India’s arms market by selling equipment previous administrations had been unwilling to.

“Under the Trump administration, we’ve been very clear that we’re ready to help meet India’s defense needs and we are seeking a very different kind of defense partnership building on the ‘Major Defense Partner’ designation that India has received from Congress,” she said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit India later this month hoping to secure new military deals, after saying earlier in the week that Lockheed Martin’s F-21 and Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter offerings will be on the table.

Speculations have also emerged that the U.S. was ready to offer India its fifth generation F-35 jets in exchange for them forgoing the procurement of S-400.

RT informs that Washington has employed a similar tactic with Turkey, trying to convince the country not to buy Russian defense systems, an effort Ankara has fiercely opposed. Both India and Turkey have suggested that the United States should stop attempts to dictate other countries’ national policy decisions.