The United States has warned India not to purchase advanced Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, urging New Delhi to reconsider purchasing Russia’s air shield systems or face the “risk for sanctions.”
This comes after a $5.43 billion contract was signed in October 2018 for five regiments of the systems – which will make India will be the world’s largest foreign S-400 operator by 2025.
India has already made initial payments for the systems, and the country’s armed forces have pledged to proceed with acquisition plans in spite of threats of American sanctions. The first S-400 units will be delivered by the end of 2020. A senior
A senior official at the US State Department made the remarks during a press briefing on Wednesday, stressing that the Asian country was not immune to Washington’s sanctions over the deal with Moscow, just like Turkey, which is also under the threat of US sanctions over a similar deal purchasing the same missile platform.
“There is not a blanket waiver. Congress certainly never designed that or anticipated that, nor did the administration,” he said.
The unnamed official stressed that some might wrongly think that since Congress designated India’s current military status several years ago, then, New Delhi enjoys “protection from any sort of sanctions.” However, this is a misinterpretation, he emphasized.
Taking any punitive measures against New Delhi would be adopted in line with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), signed into law in 2017. The act, despite what its name suggests, has largely been brandished by Washington as a warning to allied nations mulling weapons deals with Russia – namely Turkey and India.
“While there’s not a blanket waiver, there’s also not a blanket application. And so what I mean by that is there is a case-by-case analysis on where CAATSA sanctions could be applied. CAATSA sanctions also can range in depth as to how deep-cutting and to the entities and the people. And those options are always there,” further said the US official added.
The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away.
A number of NATO member states, the US in particular, claim that Russian-made S-400 missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance, prompting it to threaten to impose sanctions on Turkey, which has purchased the air defense system.
“The challenge we have with any state like India is new acquisitions on significant systems that would either put at risk our platforms or expose our technologies to an adversary. And so we said this very simple – Turkey was a perfect example,” the official added.
Moscow and New Delhi had signed an intergovernmental agreement on the sale of five units of the air defense systems during the 17th India-Russia summit back in October 2016 in the Indian coastal region of Goa.
During a visit to India on October 5, 2018, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, signed a contract with Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to deliver the five regiment sets of the S-400 systems worth 5.43 billion dollars.
Back in February last year, Moscow said that India would receive “without any delays” the advanced missile systems and that Russia’s “commitments under the contract will be fulfilled.”
Moscow has promised to deliver the first missile system by the end of 2020.
India, for its part, has emphasized that it can make its own arms purchases independently, with its external affairs minister stressing last November that New Delhi would “not be influenced by other countries on what we do in terms of our national security and defense.”