US sanctions waiver intended to 'wean' countries like India off Russian equipment

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 06, 2018, 05.07 PM(IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

The highly mobile, ground-based S-400 Triumf can detect, track and shoot down multiple targets including cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, aircraft, drones, UAVs. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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CAATSA law was adopted by the US Congress on July 28, 2017, and signed by President Trump August 2, 2017.

In what seems to be a strong message by the US on India-Russia deal on 5 units of S400, the US State Department spoke to WION has said there is a strict criterion for considering a waiver. 

According to Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which is an American law, any country has a significant transaction with Russian Defence sector can be sanctioned. But the law also has a provision for a waiver which has to be given by the President of US.

The US state department told WION, "The waiver authority is not country-specific. There are strict criteria for considering a waiver. The waiver is narrow, intended to wean countries off of Russian equipment and allow for things such as spare parts for previously-purchased equipment."

The state dept also urged all "of our allies and partners" to forgo transactions "with Russia that would trigger sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)."

CAATSA law was adopted by the US Congress on July 28, 2017, and signed by President Trump August 2, 2017. Responding to a question is New Delhi concerned about US sanctions due to S400, a top govt official responded by saying "deal in national interest and S400 deal negotiation precedes CAATSA by a long period"
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The Trump 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."

Recently, Russia's ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said, Washington's sanctions are not only unfair but aimed at driving Russia out of the Indian defence sector and its military and political space. 

The state dept also highlighted its sanctions on China for buying S400 which "underscores the seriousness of our resolve on this issue."
China took delivery of 10 Sukhoi fighter aircraft, specifically Su-25s, in December of 2017 and a batch of S-400  surface-to-air missile systems in January of this year.

But the US, many will say cant put Bejing alongside New Delhi, given the growing closeness between both the countries. The new Indo Pacific construct has brought both closer to each other. India has been increasing its defence trade with the US which currently stands at $15 billion.