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Asia Minute: Putin’s quick trip to India

India Russia Vladimir Putin Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi 120621
Mikhail Klimentyev/AP
Pool Sputnik Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, enter the hall during their meeting in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

President Joe Biden held talks Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their video call follows an in-person visit the Russian president just made in the Indo-Pacific.

Putin spent less than a day in India — but it was long enough to have an evening meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The main focus was military relations — and expanding them in a new 10-year agreement covering broader cooperation in military technology.

The agreement also provides for India’s local production of more than half a million Russian-designed assault rifles.

In the near term, India is paying Russia $5.4 billion for a ground-to-air missile defense system known as the S-400.

Talks on that deal were concluded more than three years ago — and India’s Foreign Secretary told reporters that delivery of parts of the system has now begun.

The sale is going ahead despite warnings of potential sanctions from the United States — because of the Russia connection.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is among those recommending a waiver of those sanctions.

They argue that the developing security relationship between India and the United States outweighs New Delhi’s purchase of the military system from Russia.

President Biden has put a new emphasis on the “Quad” alliance — involving the United States, Japan, Australia and India as a counterweight to China.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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