US unlikely to impose CAATSA sanctions on India for S-400, but other Russian deals won’t be easy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden during their bilateral meeting, in Washington on September 24, 2021. Twitter /@narendramodi

Form of words:

New Delhi: Sources told ThePrint that President Joe Biden’s administration is unlikely to approve India’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The $5.43 billion S-400 ‘Triumph’ missile system deal will make headlines during the visit of the Russian President to India. Vladimir Putin on 6 December During this he will hold summit talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The India-Russia annual summit will also see the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries come together for the first time this year as they plan to give a special tag to the relationship, as New Delhi has done with its quad. Partners (USA, Japan and Australia).

The two sides are expected to sign a 10-year military technical agreement. The mutual exchange of logistics agreement is also ready for Washington to sign all the red rags.

While the US has not made public its stance on how the US will treat India on CAATSA with respect to the S-400, the Biden administration has asked New Delhi during diplomatic interactions to give the President a waiver. “willing” to. For the S-400 deal as a one-time exception “only” for India, the source said.

Passed in August 2017, CAATSA provides for sanctions by the US against countries doing business with Moscow.

However, the US expects that India will continue to work towards reducing its import dependence on Russia as far as procurement of arms and equipment is concerned, the source said.

According to this source, India was able to convince the US during the previous Donald Trump administration that it would go ahead with the S-400 deal. New Delhi was “assured” of an exemption when then Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met her US counterpart Jim Mattis Inaugural round of India-US 2+2 talks Held in September 2018, diplomatic sources said.

Subsequently in October 2018, India and Russia signed the S-400 deal.

Sources in the Indian defense and security establishment said the CAATSA issue has come up for discussion at multiple levels with the US on several occasions – the last time being Travel US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in March this year.

During these discussions, the Modi government “categorically” told Americans that the deal not only predates CAATSA, but also highlighted that it was an “American law” and not a UN one.

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Growing Indo-US Relations as ‘Strategic Allies’

The US is yet to make any official statement on imposing CAATSA on India, with sources saying the Biden administration will not jeopardize the growing Indo-US ties with such a move.

According to sources, India has diversified its defense sources and a large number of US systems are also in service with Indian forces, many of which are in the pipeline. The major defense deals the US is eyeing include a nearly $3 billion deal for armed drones and new fighter jets for both the Indian Air Force and Navy.

A second source said the Biden administration “recognizes” the fact that India is now one of its “strategic allies” and therefore will not rush to implement CAATSA for the S-400 deal, under which the first system Already being distributed.

Last month, Dmitry Shugaev, director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), told the news agency Sputnik that the delivery of the missiles “advance in time,

“We are very clear with our Indian partners about our concern over this system,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. said At a press briefing in November.

During her first visit to India in October, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that the S-400 “Dangerous“For the security interests of any nation.

Between 2011-15 and 2016-20, India’s arms imports saw a 33 percent drop, along with sales from Russia hit hardest, According to the latest data published by Swedish think-tank SIPRI, Moscow saw a 53 percent drop in its arms exports to India, while the latter saw an increase in imports from France.

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‘Law in the work of giving exemption to quad countries’

Former Indian ambassador to Russia PS Raghavan told ThePrint that the Biden administration “thinks quite differently” on CAATSA than the previous Trump regime. This can be seen in the case of the Russia-Germany energy partnership. nord stream 2 deals, where the US “finds a way to waive sanctions on Germany”.

“There is now a realization in various parts of the US establishment that CAATSA has the potential to damage relationships and they do not want to jeopardize those relations that have a strategic aspect,” Raghavan said. National Security Advisory Board.

The S-400 deal is “done and dusted”. “There are reports that there will be some demonstrative deliveries before the summit,” he said.

“There are reports of legislation in the works to exempt quad countries from CAATSA sanctions. It will actually be discounted through the back door, if it gets passed. Because imposing sanctions means that it prevents the US from doing business with these countries and they do not want to do that,” Raghavan said.

“Most importantly, US law (National Defense Authorization Act 2019) gives the US administration the power to waive sanctions for a number of strategic and national security reasons, which Biden can use,” he said.

On defense procurement, the US has so far invoked CAATSA only against China and Turkey. But it has not been implemented against Turkey, Raghavan said because the US “cannot stop doing business with a NATO partner”.

At this stage, the discussion is not entirely about waiving CAATSA, but it is about not applying CAATSA to the S-400, he said, how do we deal with the law, when other important defense transactions are made in Russia. is considered, “still has to be solved”.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyay)

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