Ahead of S-400 missiles delivery, two US Senators urge Biden to waive CAATSA curbs on India

Ahead of S-400 missiles delivery, two US Senators urge Biden to waive CAATSA curbs on India

Washington/New Delhi, Oct 26 (UNI) Ahead of the delivery by Russia of the S-400 Triumf missiles towards the end of this year, two US Senators have urged President Joe Biden not to impose the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions against India, saying it could “derail the deepening cooperation” with New Delhi.

US Senators and India Caucus Co-Chairs Mark Warner (Democrat) and John Cornyn (Republican) wrote to President Joe Biden on Tuesday urging him not to impose the CAATSA sanctions.

The CAATSA, approved in July 2017, is the US’ response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged interference in the US presidential elections in 2016. The law includes provisions that require the US President to impose sanctions on any nation with “significant transactions” with the Russian defence industry.

The US has earlier warned India that it could face sanctions over acquiring five Russian S-400 Triumf self-propelled surface-to-air (SAM) systems in a $5.5 billion deal.

The US Senators, in the letter, said: “While India has taken significant steps to reduce its purchases of Russian military equipment, it has a long history of purchasing arms from the Soviet Union, and later Russia. In 2018, India formally agreed to purchase Russian S-400 Triumf air-defense systems after having signed an initial agreement with Russia two years prior. We are concerned that the upcoming transfer of these systems will trigger sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was enacted to hold Russia accountable for its malign behavior.”

“As such, we strongly encourage you to grant a CAATSA waiver to India for its planned purchase of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system.”

“In cases where granting a waiver would advance the national security interests of the U.S., this waiver authority, as written into the law by Congress, allows the President additional discretion in applying sanctions,” they said.

Referring to the steps taken by the Biden administration to deepen India-US ties, including the support provided during the second wave of Covid, they said “Your revitalization of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, of which India is a core member, has served as an additional mechanism for closer cooperation between our two countries.”

“In the midst of this strengthening bilateral relationship, we are concerned that possible upcoming sanctions against India could reverse or slow this progress.”

“However, in the case of this current S-400 transaction involving India, we believe that the application of CAATSA sanctions could have a deleterious effect on a strategic partnership with India, while at the same time, not achieve the intended purpose of deterring Russian arms sales,” they said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his August visit to India, when asked about CAATSA said: “Well, we have – we have our laws. We’ll – we apply our laws, but we shared our concerns with India about this. But I’m not going to get ahead of myself. We’ll see how things evolve in the coming months.”

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman during her visit earlier this month said after her meetings with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval that a final decision on possible sanctions on the S-400 deal will be made by President Biden and US Secretary Antony Blinken.

“We’ve been quite public about any country that decides to use the S-400. We think that is dangerous and not in anybody’s security interest,” she said.

“That said, we have a strong partnership with India. We want to be very thoughtful about the ways ahead, and discussions between our countries try to solve problems and I hope we will be able to in this instance as well,” Sherman added.

In their letter, the US Senators said that India has shown its intent to purchase equipment from the United States, with sales reaching $3.4 billion in FY20. “These are positive trends that show India’s effort to reduce reliance on Russian equipment, and a desire to take advantage of its new status as a Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) partner.”

“Imposing sanctions at this time could derail deepening cooperation with India across all aspects of our bilateral relationship – from vaccines to defense cooperation, from energy strategy to technology sharing. Furthermore, sanctions have the potential to embolden critics within India who warn that the United States will not be a consistent and reliable partner for cooperation, and to thwart the Indian government’s efforts and long-term strategy to reduce Russian purchases and reliance on Russian defense hardware.”

In October 2018, India signed the deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, despite warning from the then Trump administration that going ahead may trigger US sanctions under CAATSA.

Indian military personnel have been undergoing training in Russia in handling the S-400 air defence systems.

The S-400 Triumf ‘SA-21 Growler’ missiles are known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.

The ‘Triumf’ interceptor-based missile system has the capability to detect and destroy incoming hostile aircraft, high and low targets and even drones at ranges of up to 400km.

The Triumf system is built to destroy aerial threats, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as well as cruise and ballistic missiles within the range of 400km at an altitude of up to 30km.

The system is also equipped to simultaneously engage 36 targets. An upgraded version of the S-300, the S-400 is said to be twice as effective and can easily be deployed within five minutes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *