VIF News Digest: International Developments (01 Oct – 07 Oct 2018)
Donald Trump claims PM Modi will reduce import tariffs on motorcycles: Says ‘India called us to make a deal’, 2 Oct 2018

President of the United States of America, Donald Trump has on record said that he has spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in the conversation, PM Modi has assured Trump that India will reduce the import tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles and many other US products and India wants to start trade talks and also apparently India has called Trump's office to make a deal. Donald Trump has raised the import tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles many times as early as he resumed office and the import duties have been a talking point ever since then

In a press conference, Donald Trump said that India charges the US with tremendous tariffs and now Modi led government wants to have a trade deal with America to keep him happy. The last reported conversation between the Modi and Trump was in February 2018 post which the import tariffs were reduced by 50% on motorcycles being imported from the US. However, The White House has not responded or confirmed on the query on whether Trump was referring to a conversation earlier or one subsequent to that. The Independent also contacted The Indian Embassy in Washington that did not respond to calls. Click here to read.....

India US gained from each other's experience during Exercise Yudh Abhyas US Army official, 3 Oct 2018

Army personnel of India and the United States gained from each other's experience in various fields of operation during a fortnight-long joint military exercise in Uttarakhand, a senior US Army official has said. The annual exercise named - Yudh Abhyas - was held from September 16-29 in Chaubatia in Almora district. The exercise witnessed participation of an infantry battalion of the Indian Army and the 1st Battalion 23 Infantry Regiment of the US Army.

"We had a series of objectives for this exercise. We split it in two portions: A field training exercise from soldier up to battalion-brigade level; and the second part of the exercise that ran concurrently was a simulation driven command post exercise. That was at my level and the brigade level," said Maj. Gen. William H Graham, Deputy Commanding General I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in an interaction with PTI. Click here to read.....

Russia missile deal puts India in US Sanctions crosshairs, 5 Oct 2018

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, one item on their agenda will be closely tracked in Washington: India’s planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 air-defence missile systems. Washington is targeting Russia’s defense industry and those who do business with the country using a sanctions power mandated by Congress last year. Sanctioning New Delhi for its deal with Moscow, though, would disrupt US efforts to cultivate India as a security partner—a key prong in its Indo-Pacific strategy to counterbalance China’s rise.

At the same time, granting India a sanctions waiver for a more-than $5 billion deal involving one of Russia’s most advanced weapons systems risks undermining Washington’s escalating campaign against Moscow. The Treasury and State Departments last month sanctioned China’s Equipment Development Department for its recent purchases of Sukhoi jet fighters and S-400 missiles from Russia. Officials said the move was intended to send a message to other countries considering similar Russian arms deals. Click here to read.....

The importance of advancing the US-India partnership, 1 Oct 2018

“The United States - India relationship is the cornerstone of security in the Indo-Pacific region. As the former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans and the grateful son of a Flying Tiger who served in India during World War II, I know firsthand the positive defense relationship America can build upon with India. This is why I have introduced legislation to advance our strategic relationship”, according to Joe Wilson, a member of the US Foreign Affairs Committee.

He further elaborates, “After decades of India’s foreign relations marked as being a key leader of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, the U.S. – India bilateral relations began to take shape in 2000, a few years after India’s second round of nuclear weapons tests. Despite international pressures against engaging with India as a result of these nuclear tests, President George W. Bush raised India’s status to “strategic ally” in order to ensure that the United States did not miss opportunities to engage and develop positive relations with India will maintaining our commitment to the various nonproliferation regimes. Together, we increased trade and expanded access to our respective markets and increased joint military exercises. Like America, India has also suffered terrorist attacks both at home and abroad.” Click here to read.....

US reveals new ‘Glide Breaker’ defence program to counter Russia hypersonic threat, 1 Oct 2018

The superpower has announced the “Glide Breaker” program, a defence system to stop hypersonic weapons after they have been launched. It comes in response to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s repeated threats that the country has developed weapons that can reach anywhere in the world without being tracked by anti-missile systems.

The aim of the research by the Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is to “develop and demonstrate technologies to enable defence against hypersonic systems”. And the groundbreaking program would be a “powerful new capability” at a time when China and Russia are accelerating their development of high-speed weapons, a defence expert has claimed. Click here to read.....

Pentagon sees China as 'growing risk' to US defence industry, 5 Oct 2018

China represents a "significant and growing risk" to the supply of materials vital to the United States military, according to a new Pentagon-led report that seeks to mend weaknesses in core US industries vital to national security. The nearly 150-page report, seen by Reuters on Oct 4 ahead of its formal release on Friday, concluded there are nearly 300 vulnerabilities that could affect critical materials and components essential to the US military.

Reuters was first to report on the study's major conclusions on Tuesday. The analysis included a series of recommendations to strengthen American industry, including by expanding direct investment in sectors deemed critical. The specific plans were listed in an unreleased, classified annex. Click here to read.....


India inks $5.43 billion deal to buy S-400 Triumf missiles from Russia, 5 Oct 2018

India inked $5.43 billion (Rs 40,000 crore) deal to purchase five advanced S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile squadrons from Russia, despite the looming threat of US financial sanctions.

India and Russia signed the missile deal after annual summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Delhi. The United States has warned that countries trading with Russia's defence and intelligence sectors would face automatic sanctions under a sweeping legislation called Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that President Donald Trump signed into law last August. Click here to read.....

India-Russia reset: S-400 sovereignty test, 4 Oct 2018

‘Reset’ seems to be the reigning buzzword, and strategic autonomy the operative mantra in India’s diplomatic lexicon. In fact, it is set to be the year of diplomatic reset for India with three of its key strategic partners and major global players, including the US, Russia and China. Amid a rapidly mutating geo-strategic environment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held his first informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April, paving the way for a new phase of post-Doklam stability in India-China relations. With the US, India held its first 2+2 dialogue in September, which underlined growing strategic connect between the world’s leading democracies.

The reset with Russia, amid mutual misgivings sparked by third country relationships, started with Prime Minister Modi’s first informal summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the resort city of Sochi in May. Building on the Sochi understanding, India rolled out the red carpet for President Putin, a trusted and time-tested friend. Click here to read.....

Not only defence, Vladimir Putin’s India visit to boost cooperation in space, energy sectors too, 4 Oct 2018

The annual summit between India and Russia this year will have implications for India’s relations with the US. As India signed the S-400 missile defence deal+ when Narendra Modi met Vladimir Putin for formal discussions, New Delhi will be aware that the move may potentially invite US sanctions.

Putin, accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, arrived in India when he was expected to have a private dinner with PM Narendra Modi. Next day, after formal delegation talks, India and Russia signed a set of key pacts. While the defence agreement will hog the headlines, India and Russia are also expected to announce a new space cooperation mechanism. This was put in motion after Modi announced that India would send a man to the moon by 2022. Click here to read.....

Russian-Indian counterterrorism exercise Indra to be held on November 18-28, 3 Oct 2018

The joint Russian-Indian counter-terrorism exercise, Indra-2018, will be held on November 18-28 in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the press service of Russia’s Eastern Military District said on Wednesday. "The final conference on preparations for the joint Russian-Indian exercise, Indra-2018, has taken place in India. The sides agreed that the exercise will be held at a training ground near the town of Babina in the state of Uttar Pradesh of the Republic of India, from November 18 to November 28, 2018," the press service said in a statement. "The Russian side plans to send about 250 servicemen of motorized infantry units of the Eastern Military District, deployed in the Primorye Region [in the Far East]," the statement reads.

The joint Russian-Indian counter-terrorism exercises, Indra, have been held regularly since 2003. The previous military maneuvers took place in 2017 in Russia’s Far Eastern region of Primorye and at naval training grounds of Russia’s Pacific Fleet. Click here to read.....

Indian firm to Pay Russia's Rosneft $230 mn to settle Sakhalin-1 dispute, 1 Oct 2018

In July, Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft, filed a lawsuit against five entities - Sakhalinmorneftegaz, RN-Astra, Exxon Neftegas Ltd, Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development Co., and ONGC Videsh Limited, accusing these firms of "unjust enrichment and interest gained by using other people’s money" and claimed $1.4 billion in damages.

India's state-owned ONGC Videsh Ltd and its partners will pay $230 million to Russian energy giant Rosneft in an out of court settlement of a dispute regarding oil production in Russia's Sakhalin-1 oil field. "We have agreed for an out-of-court settlement and the consortium has agreed to pay $230 million," N.K. Verma, managing director, ONGC Videsh, told reporters in New Delhi. Verma said that the Indian firm has already made the payment to Rosneft.

The Indian state-owned firm holds 20% interest in the Sakhalin-1 project that it bought way back in 2001 for $1.7 billion. The project started production in 2005. Click here to read.....

UK accuses Kremlin of ordering series of 'reckless' cyber-attacks, 4 Oct 2018

The British government has directly accused Russian military intelligence of being behind a spate of “reckless and indiscriminate cyber-attacks” carried out on the orders of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, including the hacking in 2016 of the US Democratic National Committee headquarters. The claim is a precursor to the announcement of further UK intelligence revelations of Russian state involvement in the poisoning in Salisbury of Sergei Skripal, the Russian double agent.

In an unprecedented statement, the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) had found that a number of hackers widely known to have been conducting attacks around the world were covers for the the Russian GRU intelligence service. He added that their attacks had been undertaken with the consent and knowledge of the Kremlin. Click here to read.....


More than 70,000 flee ethnic violence in Western Ethiopia: Reuters, 2 October 2018

More than 70,000 people have fled ethnically-charged violence in western Ethiopia, officials there said on Tuesday - part of an eruption of unrest that has piled pressure on reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Residents in Benishangul-Gumuz region said violence erupted on Friday after four local officials were killed during a visit to neighbouring Oromiya region. Ethnic Oromos living in Benishangul-Gumuz were attacked by members of other groups, and many fled into Oromiya, said residents, who asked not to be named. Click here to read.....

African countries struggle to contain terror groups: VOA, 2 October 2018

Amid a decline in terror incidents worldwide in 2017, African countries struggled to prevent the expansion of terror groups in parts of the continent, according to a U.S. State Department report on terrorism. "African countries expanded their efforts to develop regional counterterrorism solutions while they struggled to contain the expansion of terrorist groups, affiliates, and aspirants involved in attacks or other activities in 2017," according to the report, released last week.

Experts offer different explanations as to why terror groups have been able to expand in the continent. Jacob Zenn, a terrorism expert with the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation, said he believes that when it comes to ideology and development, the former should be given more attention. Click here to read.....

UN Security Council heads to DRC ahead of polls: VOA, 3 October 2018

The UN Security Council is heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo this week ahead of December elections, amid tensions between Congolese authorities and the UN and concerns over a risk of poll violence. The U.N. wants "free, fair and peaceful elections," Karel Van Oosterom, Dutch ambassador to the global organization said Wednesday.

Van Oosterom will be among those in the Security Council delegation, joined by representatives from the United States, Bolivia, France and Equatorial Guinea. The trip is planned Thursday to Monday and will be limited to Kinshasa. The council hopes to meet with President Joseph Kabila, his prime minister and foreign minister, as well as the election commission and other stakeholders. Click here to read.....

Congo accuses EU of Election interference for maintaining sanctions: Reuters, 4 October 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo has accused the European Union of interfering in its upcoming presidential election by not heeding Kinshasa’s call to lift sanctions on President Joseph Kabila’s hand-picked candidate, letters from his lawyers show. The candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, was interior minister during violent crackdowns on protesters demonstrating against Kabila’s refusal to step down when his second elected term expired in December 2016. The EU imposed sanctions on Ramazani and 15 others for what it said were rights violations and interference in the election process, and is due to vote on whether to renew those sanctions on Dec. 12. DRC’s presidential election is on Dec. 23.

In a series of letters to the Council of the European Union between Sept. 10-28 seen by Reuters, lawyers representing 15 of the officials under sanctions said Kabila’s decision in August not seek a third term had rendered the sanctions moot and called them “blatant interference” in the electoral process. Click here to read.....

Zimbabwe vaccinates 1.4 million to combat worst cholera outbreak in a decade: Reuters, 4 October 2018

Zimbabwe has started vaccinating people living in urban areas to contain the worst cholera outbreak to hit the country in a decade which has left 49 people dead and infected thousands more. The southern African nation of more than 13 million people last month appealed locally for help to raise $35 million to buy vaccines and medicines and to repair water and sewer pipes.

Some 1.4 million will be vaccinated, starting with those in the most densely populated areas. The outbreak of the water borne disease has exposed the lack of maintenance of the country’s infrastructure.

Zimbabwe’s worst cholera outbreak occurred in 2008 during the height of the economic crisis, leaving more than 4,000 dead and infecting another 40,000. Click here to read.....

Morocco best-connected maritime country in Africa: UN Report – Xinhua, 4 October 2018

Morocco has consolidated its position as Africa's best-connected maritime hub, local media reported Thursday. Morocco has improved its performance with a level of maritime connectivity of 71.5, compared to less than 70 in 2017, the Moroccan daily Le Matin reported, citing the UN Conference on Trade and Development's Review of Maritime Transport 2018.

Morocco was followed by Egypt with a grade of 70.3 and South Africa 40.1. Worldwide, China remains the trading nation best connected to others by sea in 2018 with a score of 187.8. Click here to read.....

Melania Trump wraps first solo international trip in Egypt with comments on Kavanaugh and Ford: The Washington Post, 6 October 2018

The visual was striking — Melania Trump stood in front of Egypt’s Great Sphinx, doing something she rarely does: Speaking about the news of the day. Reporters traveling with her as she traversed Africa this past week asked her about the news back home of the confirmation of the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her.

“I’m glad that Dr. Ford was heard,” the first lady said. “I’m glad that Judge Kavanaugh was heard, FBI investigation was done, is completed, and [the] Senate voted.” She spoke of sexual assault victims who have been speaking up, sounding a far more sympathetic note than President Trump, who has mocked Ford. “We need to help all the victims, no matter what kind of abuse they had,” she said. “I’m against any kind of abuse.” The first lady, who so often comes across as sphinx-like herself and has often remained silent amid the din of her husband’s administration, was unusually outspoken. Click here to read.....

Contact Us