S-400: US President Biden urged not to impose CAATSA sanctions on India
In a letter to Biden, Democratic Party Senators Mark Warner and Republican Party Senators John Cornyn urged the President to grant India a national interest waiver in accordance with CAATSA as it is in the interests of security United States National.
“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 states -United, this exemption authority, as enshrined in law by Congress, leaves the president additional discretion in the application of sanctions, ”the two senators wrote.
Warner is chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Intelligence and Cornyn’s Senate Minority Whip for the GOP. Both are co-chairs of the Indian Senate Caucus, the only country-specific caucus in the US Senate.
“We share your concerns about the purchase and continued Indian integration of Russian equipment, even with these declining sales. We encourage your administration to continue to reinforce this concern with Indian officials and to engage constructively with them to continue to support alternatives to their purchase of Russian products. equipment, ”they wrote.
In October 2018, India signed a $ 5 billion deal with Russia to purchase five units of the S-400 air defense missile systems, despite the then-Trump administration’s warning that the continuation of the contract could trigger US sanctions under CAATSA.
The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defense system.
CAATSA is a strict US law that authorizes the administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defense equipment from Russia in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged interference in elections. US presidential elections of 2016.
In their letter, the two senators wrote that while India has taken significant steps to reduce its purchases of Russian military equipment, it has long been buying arms from the Soviet Union and then from Russia.
“In 2018, India officially agreed to purchase Russian S-400 Triumf air defense systems after signing an initial agreement with Russia two years earlier. We are concerned that the upcoming transfer of these systems could trigger sanctions. under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions (CAATSA), which was enacted to hold Russia accountable for its malicious behavior, ”they said.
The provisions of CAATSA, including sanctions against Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, are an important tool for the US government to discourage Russian arms purchases around the world.
“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 not achieving the objective of dissuading Russia from arms sales ”, argued the two senators.
Warner and Cornyn said Congress has established criteria to determine the appropriateness of lifting the CAATSA sanctions. Specifically, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 authorizes the President to issue a waiver if it is in the national interest and if it does not endanger the national security of the United States, no. ‘affect US military operations or compromise US defense systems.
“We believe a waiver for India is appropriate for several reasons,” they argued.
“First, India has taken significant steps to reduce its imports of Russian military equipment in recent years. From 2016 to 2020, there was a 53% drop in Russian arms exports to India compared to previous five years, ”the letter reads. noted.
“Meanwhile, India has shown its intention to purchase equipment from the United States, with sales reaching $ 3.4 billion in fiscal year 20. These are positive trends that show the efforts of the United States. India to reduce its dependence on Russian equipment and its desire to take advantage of its new status. as a partner of Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1), “they wrote.
“Second, we believe there is a national security imperative to the lifting of the sanctions. Imposing sanctions at that time could derail the deepening of cooperation with India in all aspects of our bilateral relations. – from vaccines to cooperation in defense, from energy strategy to technology sharing “, they declared. .
In addition, the sanctions have the potential to embolden critics in India who warn that the United States will not be a consistent and reliable partner for cooperation, and to thwart the efforts and long-term strategy of the Indian government to reduce Russian purchases and dependence on Russian defense equipment, ”the two senators wrote.
“We share your concerns about the purchase and continued Indian integration of Russian equipment, even with these declining sales. We encourage your administration to continue to reinforce this concern with Indian officials and to engage constructively with them to continue to support alternatives to their purchase of Russian products. material, ”they said.
“We also propose that your administration establish a bilateral task force to identify ways to promote the security of US technology and chart a way forward to develop strategies to improve US-India military interoperability. We believe these actions strengthen India’s status as a Major Defense Partner and will provide another avenue to counter PRC influence in the Indo-Pacific, ”the two senators wrote.