Russian President Vladimir Putin is arriving in India next week, and all eyes are on the S-400 air defence system. Putin is expected to hardsell it, and that is going to be like preaching to the converted. India wants it badly, but is still looking over the shoulder to see how the US would react.
The signs from Washington aren’t good. The Donald Trump administration slapped sanctions on China only a week ago for buying S-400. Now Saudi Arabia, an old ally of the US, is worried. The Saudis too would like to get the missile, but are worried about what the US would think. “I hope nobody will impose any sanctions on us,” Saudi Ambassador to Russia, Raid bin Khalid Krimli, told journalists in Moscow. There are others too eyeing the missile system—NATO member Turkey, Egypt and Qatar. All of them want the air defence system, but are worried that the US would slap sanctions under the notorious CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) provisions.