Sanctions over S-400 deal: Why India seems unperturbed?
New Delhi, Oct 15: Ever since India finalised the deal with Russia to purchase S-400 missles, the Trump administration has been issuing veiled threats to impose sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
While Donald Trump said that India will soon find out about the sanctions, the White House has maintained that CAATSA is not intended to damage the military ties with US' allies or partners.
India has been clear in its stand over military ties with Russia and does not seem too worried about the CAATSA sanctions. Even during the '2+2' dialogue between India and the US in September, New Delhi sought waiver from sanctions but maintained that it would go ahead with the S-400 deal.
India has close defence ties with Russia for decades now. A majority of India's defense assets, ranging from air defense systems to tanks and fighter jets, are sourced from Russia. Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said even before the S-400 deal that the US sanctions against Russia would not be impacting India-Russia defense cooperation.
In fact, India has made it very clear that sanctions or no-sanction, India-Russia defence ties would not be effected. The main reason for this is that except for some aircrafts and Apache helicopters, the US has not sold India any of its major defense equipment or technology to India. Whereas, Russia continues to supply over 70% of military equipment to India and most importantly it shares critical technologies with India.
By imposing sanctions, the US may harm defense relationship with India which is considered as one of the world's most lucrative markets for arms exporters. According to a 2017 report by the UK's Royal Institute of International Affairs, India was responsible for 10.3% of global arms imports between 2000 and 2016, with Russia supplying 72% of those imports.
Last week, Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said that CAATSA sanctions imposed by US will not have any impact on India-Russia defence deals.
"Ours is an old relationship, strategic partnership and defence cooperation. In the next two-three months you will see deals on frigates and Kalashnikovs. There can be more. Just wait for it," Kudashev said.
India and Russia signed a contract for Russia's S-400 air defense system on October 5 during President Vladimir Putin's visit to New Delhi. India termed the purchase a necessity for national interest, while hoping for a waiver under the punitive Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
US President Donald Trump last week said that India "will soon find out" about his decision on the punitive CAATSA sanctions after India signed a USD 5 billion deal to purchase the much-vaunted S-400 air defence system from Russia. Under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA sanctions, which was amended early this year, only Trump has the authority for the presidential waiver to India on weapons deal with sanctions-hit Russia.