Washington, Apr 12 (PTI) The US has not yet made any decision on potential sanctions or waivers to India under CATSAA law for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.
The US administration is required under its domestic law, Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) to impose sanctions on any country that has significant transactions with Iran, North Korea or Russia. CAATSA is a tough US law that authorises the administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.
“We continue to urge all countries to avoid major new transactions for Russian weapons systems, particularly in light of what Russia is doing to Ukraine. We’ve not yet made a determination on potential sanctions or potential waivers under the CATSAA law,” Blinken said. Blinken’s comments came during a joint news conference with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin along with their Indian counterparts –External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh after the 2+2 Ministerial here on Monday.
He was responding to a question on India purchasing the S-400 missile system from Russia. In October 2018, India signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, despite a warning from the then Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.
The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the CAATSA for the purchase of a batch of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia. Following the US sanctions on Turkey over the procurement of S-400 missile systems, there were apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures on India.
Russia has been one of India’s key major suppliers of arms and ammunition. Blinken noted that there is a long history and a long relationship between India and Russia, including when it comes to military equipment. “That relationship took hold many years ago at a time when, as I said, we were not able to be a partner to India,” he said. “We are now both able and willing to be such a partner, to be a security partner of choice for India. That’s one of the areas that we discussed in some detail today,” he said.
The White House echoed Blinken’s view earlier in the day. “In terms of military actions: So we have not made a decision about the waiver under CAATSA. In terms of how much it was discussed during the call, I’d have to get more details from our national security team on that specifically,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in response to a question.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters that the US has a strong defence partnership with India. “We are going to continue to look for ways to deepen that defence partnership. India is an important partner in the region, in the Indo-Pacific region, and we’re going to continue to look for ways to improve that partnership,” he said.
“And India should be able to speak for their own national policies with respect to what’s going on in Russia and Ukraine. We’ve been very honest about where we are on this and the actions we’re taking and the things that we’re doing, but the other things that we’re doing are looking for ways to make sure we deepen that partnership with India,” he said at his news conference at the Pentagon.
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