New Delhi has been “heard and understood” by the US administration over its accord to buy the S-400 missile defence system for $5.2 billion”: Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a deal for the supply of S-400 Triumf missile system in October. Despite a warning by the United States that it would impose sanctions on India if the agreement went through the deal was signed. Under US laws, countries that sign deals with Russian defence or intelligence sectors can face secondary sanctions.

President Donald Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on China’s military in the year 2018 over purchase of the S-400 and other military hardware by Beijing. It has warned NATO member Turkey of sanctions for buying the S-400 and has suspended Turkey’s participation in a US jet programme.

Sitharaman told AFP (Agence France-Presse) during an interview said that Washington has taken into consideration that India, which shares borders with China and Pakistan, needs arms from Russia and others to remain a “strong partner”. “Negotiations with Moscow on the S-400 began before the US sanctions were introduced”, she informed. Upgrades in arms systems including the S-400 air and missile defense system would be a particular focus for CAATSA, a US State Department spokesperson told PTI (The Press Trust of India).

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, Randall Schriver, told in a hearing that “Washington wanted to work through the problem”. He called India “an important emerging strategic partner.” And added that India’s contract with Russia has not been completed and US is keen to see India make an alternative choice. He gave an assurance that they are working to provide potential alternatives.

Washington is in a complex situation. It wants to support the Asian giant to counter China’s assertiveness, a trend which has also rattled New Delhi. India has reportedly declined a Chinese invitation to take part in an OBOR (One Belt One Road) forum in China later this month.

In 2017 India and China had a military standoff over a Himalayan plateau claimed by both Beijing and Bhutan, since then China and India wanted to have good relations.