India has asserted that it would go ahead with the S-400 missile defence system deal with Russia, notwithstanding pressure from the United States to scrap the pact.

“India has an independent foreign policy. We take decisions based on our defence and security needs. The S-400 contract is presently being implemented according to the schedule indicated in the contract,” Indian Ambassador to Russia D B Venkatesh Varma said in an interview to leading Russian online newspaper Lenta.ru.

He noted that India has a long term, long-standing Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership with Russia. Also, New Delhi has a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with the US. “Our relations with each country stand on their own merits,” the envoy added when asked if he was concerned that the Biden administration might pit New Delhi against Moscow as part of a strategy to create some sort of an alliance in the Indo-Pacific. India has not been comfortable with repeated US attempts to dissuade it from purchasing the S- 400 system.

Varma said India has long standing defence ties with Russia. “Our defence relationship with Russia is a critical factor in our security. We are very confident that Russia fully understands India’s security needs and we are very satisfied in the manner in which Russia has responded to India’s defence and security interests, including in the recent past,” he added.

On the ongoing military stand-off with China at Eastern Ladakh, the envoy said India could not agree to normalisation of relations unless the disengagement of troops in the border areas was agreed to. “We have made it clear (to China) that India is prepared to move forward on the basis of restoration of the status quo without the use of force.”

He indicated that India and Russia would have a number of high-level contacts beginning this month in preparation for President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India later this year.