US can't guarantee India sanctions waiver if it buys from Russia: Pentagon official

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Aug 30, 2018, 03:33 PM(IST)

File photo: Russian S-400. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

The United States cannot guarantee that it will provide India a waiver from sanctions if it purchases major weapon and defence systems from Russia, a top Pentagon official said, ahead of a high-level dialogue between Washington and New Delhi.

Randall Schriver, the Pentagon's assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs has said that the waiver is "misleading" and added that Washington would have "significant concerns" if India purchased new platforms from Russia. 

The US has vehemently raised concerns over India's planned purchase of the S-400 Triumf missile system — reportedly pegged at a whopping $10 billion — from Russia.

The S-400 Triumf missile system, which can engage targets independently as well as after receiving data from others radars, is the fourth generation of long-range Russian Surface-to-Air-Missiles (SAMs). The highly mobile, ground-based S-400 Triumf can detect, track and shoot down multiple targets including cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, aircraft, drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It can target ballistic missiles in their terminal (descent or reentry) phase. The entire system consists of a multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, command and control centre.

Under current US rules against Russia, third countries could face sanctions if they transact with Russian defence or intelligence sectors.

But after lobbying from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Congress granted the US president and the secretary of state the option of granting waivers, such as when an ally nation transitions from legacy Russian gear to Western arms.

"We would still have very significant concerns if India pursued major new platforms and systems (from Russia). I can't sit here and tell you that they would be exempt, that we would use that waiver." 

Schriver's comment comes just days ahead of the crucial 2+2 dialogue between India and the US in New Delhi on September 6.

It may be noted that US Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be meeting Indian counterparts Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi in the first dialogue that has once been postponed by the US for 'unavoidable reasons'.

(With inputs from AFP)

Read in App