Russia has started supplying the S-400 air defense system to India, a Russian official confirmed on Sunday.
The deliveries are proceeding on schedule, Dmitry Shugayev, head of Russia’s Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, told Russian news agency.
“The first deliveries have already started,” Shugayev said at an aerospace trade show in Dubai, the Interfax news agency reported.
India will have the first unit of the defense system by the end of this year, according to the official.
The development comes ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s expected visit to India next month.
Moscow and New Delhi inked a $5.5 billion deal for the S-400 system in 2018, a move that opened India to possible US sanctions.
Washington has long tried to deter countries from buying military equipment from Russia, threatening them with punitive measures under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
India pressed on with the deal despite Washington’s warnings that a waiver from CAATSA was unlikely, maintaining that it has strategic ties with both Russia and the US.
Lloyd Austin, the US secretary of defense, reiterated during his March visit to India that all US allies and partners should shun Russian hardware and “avoid any kind of acquisition that would trigger sanctions.”
Turkey also faced US sanctions last year for purchasing the S-400 system and was removed from Washington’s F-35 program in 2019.
The US claimed the Russian system was a safety risk for NATO, but Turkey maintained it would pose no threat because it would not be integrated into the alliance’s systems.
Ankara dismissed the US measures, which targeted the country’s Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), as a “blatant attack” on Turkish sovereignty and brushed off concerns of their possible effects on its defense sector.