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S-400 Triumf- What, Why & How


  • GS Paper- 2, 3, Internal security, science and technology

Why in news?

  • S-400 Triumf is in the middle of an ongoing stand-off between Russia and Western nations.

What is S-400 Triumf?

  • S-400 Triumf is one of the world’s most advanced air defense systems.
  • The system is a large complex of radars, control systems and different types of missiles.
  • It can simultaneously track numerous incoming objects in a radius of a few hundred kilometers.
  • The objects may include all kinds of aircraft, missiles and UAVs.
  • It can employ appropriate missile systems to launch the counter attack and to neutralize the objects.
  • The system is potential of ensuring a high success rate.

How did it develop?

  • S-400 traces its origins to the demands of the Cold War period.
  • It was an effort to find a credible counter to the threat from missiles and incoming enemy aircraft.
  • The development of S-400 started towards the end of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
  • It was disrupted by the collapse of the Communist bloc in 1991.

What happened recently?

  • The acquisition of S-400 by countries has taken centre stage in the American diplomacy regarding Russia.
  • S. believes that S-400 could access sensitive U.S. military technologies in service with the potential buyers.
  • Russia has also deployed at least two S-400 systems in Syria.
  • This is of much concern to observers who fear the system could contribute to a global conflict breaking out in Syria.
  • Among the countries under pressure from the U.S. to not buy this weapon are India and Turkey.

Trade Tensions Between The US, NATO And Germany



  • GS Paper- 2, International Relations, Bilateral Agreements

Why in news?

  • NATO summit was recently held in Brussels amid raised trade tensions between the U.S. and the members of the alliance.
  • In this context, Mr. Trump’s clarion call for countries to enhance defense budgets has aggravated the situation.

Why the crack within the organization?

  • NATO is a cold war era bloc.
  • It is comprised of pro-U.S. powers and had positioned against the Soviet alliance.
  • With the end of the cold war, the alliance became a mere collective security net, and its importance weakened drastically.
  • Currently, NATO allies uphold some form of military cooperation but diverging worldviews of members has greatly reduced its unity.
  • S. is traditionally the largest contributor to the NATO (22% of the total), and many U.S. presidents have tried to correct this imbalance softly.
  • But Trump is assertively asking other countries to spend 4% of their GDP on defense annually and has even questioned their commitment to the alliance.
  • Notably, most NATO allies are even faltering to progress towards the currently mandated 2% mark, which is to be reached by 2024.
  • The U.S. on the contrast is now shelling out well over 3% of its annual GDP on security and is clearly moving towards the 4% mark.
  • Trump’s abrasive diplomacy and the stern financial demands are likely to cause severe strain within NATO in the coming days.

Why Trump Administration single out Germany for criticism?

  • Germany enjoys a big trade surplus with the U.S., an aspect that is irking the Trump administration, which is presently embracing protectionism.
  • In this context, Trump has lashed out on Germany for not spending enough on defense, despite having strong economic metrics in recent years.
  • Additionally, he has also targeted Germany for buying huge volumes of gas from Russia despite U.S. sanctions against the latter.
  • Notably, Russia’s regional ambitions and its interventions in international theaters to thwart American efforts are indicative of a new cold war.

What is the actual situation?

  • Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 has created a new security situation in Europe after more than two decades of relative peace.
  • As a consequence, Europe’s expenditure on defense has been on the rise since 2014, even without Trump’s rhetoric.
  • Even otherwise, Washington’s commitment to Europe’s security is just 5% (NATO and other commitments included) of the total U.S. defense budget.
  • Trump seems to be exploiting polarizing issues within NATO to further his domestic political prospects among ultra nationalists.
  • Also, his offensive against Germany and his rhetoric against Russia seem to be logical if viewed from this prism.


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