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No impact on S-400 deal, but ‘severe’ sanctions likely to dent Russia-India trade, says Moscow

New Delhi: Russia Wednesday said that its supply of S-400 missiles to India will “not be impacted in any way” due to “severe” economic sanctions imposed by several countries on Moscow amid the Ukraine war, but bilateral trade between both countries may get affected.

Denis Alipov, Ambassador-designate of Russia to India, also said that Moscow is “actively working” towards activating “humanitarian corridors” to evacuate Indian citizens stuck in the Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Sumy — where the fighting is intense — via the eastern borders through Russian territory.

This comes a day after an Indian student, 22-year-old Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, who was studying medicine in Kharkiv, died from shelling after a missile struck the regional administration building in Ukraine’s second-largest city.

On the stance taken by India on the war, the ambassador-designate said that Moscow is “grateful to India for its balanced position displayed at the UN”.

Also Read: Not 1st time India abstained in vote against Russia. It’s about Delhi’s own security interests

‘Sanctions will not interfere in S-400 deal’

The United States, European Union, Australia and Japan, among others, have imposed packages of economic sanctions on Russia for its decision to attack Ukraine.

At a press conference Wednesday, Alipov said he does not “foresee any obstacles as regards to the supplies of S-400 to India”.

India is procuring the Russian S-400 missile systems — deliveries of which have begun — under a $5.43 billion deal, for its “national security interests”.

“We have mechanisms and rules to continue with this deal unobstructive. Sanctions will not interfere into this deal in any way… whether previous sanctions or newly imposed,” Alipov said, in his first press conference since the war began.

“As regards S-400, rest assured it will not be impacted in any way. There is 100 per cent surety on that. As regards the overall trade relations and economic cooperation, we will see what will be the ultimate impact of those severe restrictions that are being imposed. We have a mechanism and means of doing business bilaterally between our countries in national currencies,” he added.

Asked about the possibility of imposition of secondary sanctions on Russia, Alipov said much will depend on the “readiness” of the Indian partners to continue, as “some of them are on the caution list as regards their exposure to the US and European markets”.

“I hope their interest in the Russian market will remain. We are open to do business with India. From our side nothing has changed, intentions and desire to continue are steadfast,” he added.

On the issue of Russia being able to provide the necessary spare parts for all its military platforms existing in India, he said, “Russia has always risen from the ashes. It will rise again. Don’t have any doubt about that… Our economy is stable and I believe will withstand the current situation we are experiencing and will experience in the future… We have financial mechanisms.”

Activating ‘humanitarian corridors’

Alipov also said Moscow and New Delhi are in touch for implementing the evacuation plan through Russian territory from the eastern borders of Ukraine.

Expressing condolences over the killing of an Indian medical student in Kharkiv, he said that investigations into his death are ongoing.

“We are in touch with Indian authorities as regards the citizens of India currently in Kharkiv, in Sumy, in those areas in the north-east of Ukraine where intense fighting is going on. I have received the Indian request for emergency evacuation of all those stuck there through the Russian territory and we are now actively working on the ways and means to launch such an operation, and to provide humanitarian corridors so that people have secure passage through the Russian territory,” said the Russian envoy.

“We want to stop military actions as soon as possible,” he added.

‘Grateful to India for its balanced position’

Asked about the stance India has taken ever since the war started, wherein New Delhi has consistently pushed for dialogue and diplomacy, the Russian envoy said Moscow is “grateful to India for its balanced position displayed at the UN”.

Last week, India abstained from voting on a US-sponsored United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Ukraine,  saying that the path of “diplomacy was given up”.

“India understands the depth of the current crisis and the reasons, sees the whole situation in all its complexities. This is very important and I think this is the reason why its stance has been so unbiased and balanced at the UN… We hope India will continue to demonstrate that,” he added.

He further said that Moscow had “informed” New Delhi about its approach (over Ukraine) and both sides also discussed the issues concerning the proposed UNSC resolutions.

“We do everything possible to keep India up to date on what is happening,” he added.

Alipov said “it should be clear that Russia does not fight the Ukrainian people, Russia does not target civilian buildings and infrastructure, Russia does not use prohibited weapons”, adding that even before downing the communication tower in Kyiv Tuesday, the Russian forces gave advance warnings “to avoid civilian casualties”.

‘Ukraine has armed criminals by opening up prisons’

“You may not know…The Ukrainian authorities opened up prisons and let out criminals and convicted murders and armed them with weapons that the West so generously provided,” the envoy said.

“They wouldn’t have needed to do that had there been mass volunteering of citizens… It is easy to accuse Russia of waging a war… The war in Ukraine started 8 years back… It’s only now when Russia said enough is enough and stepped in to end the war (that the crisis started). It is the US that is the real aggressor… It is not our choice, our choice is the peaceful solution,” he added.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: India expects West sanctions on Russia to impact key sectors, defence, engg could take big hit

Source: The Print

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