Washington, July 8
Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna has introduced a legislative amendment in the US House of Representatives, seeking a waiver to India against the punitive CAATSA sanctions for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia, underlining that this will strengthen the US-India defence ties and deter "aggressors."
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.
The law was brought in 2017 and provides for punitive actions by the US government against any country engaged in transactions with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors.
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.
“While India faces immediate needs to maintain its heavily Russian-built weapons systems, a waiver to sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) during this transition period is in the best interest of the US and the US-India defence partnership to deter aggressors in light of Russia and China's close partnership,” says the legislative amendment moved by Khanna, the Democratic lawmaker from California.
“The historic amendment will strengthen the US-India defence partnership and ensure that India does not face crippling sanctions at a time when we need to build the alliance,” Khanna told PTI, a day after introducing the legislation.
It is an utmost significant and urgent initiative to bolster the US-India relationship, he said.
The legislative amendment says that India faces immediate and serious regional border threats from China, with continued military aggression by the Chinese government along the India-China border.
Noting that India relies on Russian-built weapons for its national defence, the legislative amendment says that the United States should take additional steps to encourage India to accelerate its transition off Russian-built weapons and defence systems while strongly supporting India's immediate defence needs.
The US has not yet made any decision on potential sanctions or waivers to India under CAATSA law, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in April.
The Ministry of External Affairs has said that India was pursuing an independent foreign policy and its defence acquisitions are guided by its national security interests.
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