WASHINGTON: The US has said the Russian S-400 air and missile defence system is a “focus area” for significant transactions that could attract indirect sanctions against nations that enter into a military purchase with Moscow.
India and Russia are likely to sign a missile deal, estimated at more than $5 billion, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit for annual summit talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi beginning on Thursday in New Delhi, a Kremlin aide said.
Late last month, the Trump administration imposed sanctions under Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA, which was signed into law last August, on China for purchasing fighter jets and missile defence system from Russia.
The CAATSA law tries to push back against Russia's malign activity around the world
"We urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that would trigger sanctions under CAATSA," US State Department Spokesperson said.
The Administration has indicated that a focus area for the implementation of CAATSA Section 231 is new or qualitative upgrades in capability - including the S-400 air and missile defence system, he added.
“India and Russia will sign a deal for the multi-billion-dollar S-400 surface-to-air missile system this week. The signing of the deal for Moscow's most advanced air defence system will be overseen by Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is visiting New Delhi on October 4-5 for the annual India-Russia summit”, the report said quoting a top Kremlin aide.
The US president can grant waivers if a deal does not threaten the security of the US or its allies and there is evidence the buyer has been cutting defence imports and dependence on Russia. India fulfils these conditions and officials have sounded optimistic about getting a waiver.
But, the spokesperson added: “The waiver is narrow, intended to wean countries off of Russian equipment, and allow for things such as spare parts for previously-purchased equipment.”
“India was closing in on the deal to buy the air defence system from Russia, with which it has long-standing military ties.” Said Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“Negotiation on S-400 air defence systems has been on for a long while and it is at a stage where it can be finalised, We have a big legacy of buying defence equipment from Russia,” she added.
More than 80 percent of India’s military equipment was of Soviet origin during the days of the Cold War, but since its breakup, New Delhi has diversified its weaponry. The United States is one of its top arms suppliers, closing $15 billion worth of deals in just the last decade. US firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing lead the race to sell the Indian military hundreds of aircraft to replace its ageing Russian MiG planes.
Image credit: Outlook India