Jaishankar says buying S-400 missile is completely India’s choice

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has defended India’s right to buy a missile defence system from Russia despite the threat of sanctions from the United States.

The minister has said that India was discussing the US concerns but has declined to forecast the ultimate decision on the fate of the S-400 purchase from Russia. He said that they have always maintained that what they buy – the sourcing of military equipment – is very much a sovereign right.

He added that they would not like any state to tell them what to buy or not to buy from Russia any more than they would like any state to tell them to buy or not buy from America.

He also said that freedom of choice is theirs and they think it’s in everybody’s interest to recognise that. Last year India has agreed to buy five S-400 systems for $5.2 billion, and Russia has said that delivery is on track.

Under a 2017 law, the United States has imposed sanctions against countries over “major” arms purchases from Russia due to Moscow’s military involvement in Ukraine and Syria and alleged meddling in US elections.

In June, Turkey has angered the United States by also going ahead with an S-400 purchase. President Trump responded by ending Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 fighter jet program but is also yet to announce other sanctions.

Jaishankar has hailed warm relations overall with the United States but has underlined India’s differences with Trump’s hawkish stance on Iran. The United States has threatened sanctions to force all countries to stop buying oil from Iran as it seeks to curb Tehran’s influence in the Middle East.

The Trump administration has ended waivers for countries including India, formerly a leading customer for Iranian oil.

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