US sanctions on Russia, China add to India’s security woes

Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sumit KumarUpdated: Oct 01, 2018, 03:52 PM IST

File photo of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Photograph:(Reuters)

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India is also closely watching this development since the sanction against China is also a signal to other countries that are in the process of buying Russian military hardware.

The tension between China and the US has intensified, following the Trump administration’s decision to impose sanctions on China for purchasing Russian jets and surface to farce missiles.

Under Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of 2017, the US Department of State recently announced sanctions on the Chinese Defence Ministry’s Equipment Development Department (EDD) and its director, Li Shangfu, for buying Russian jets and missile equipment. 

According to the statement of the US Department of State, the transactions involved the purchase of Russian Su-35 combat aircraft and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment. Consequently, the EDD will be denied US foreign export licenses, banned from making foreign exchange transactions within US jurisdictions and prohibited from using the US financial system.

Any of the EDD’s property and interests within the US will be blocked. Li will also be subjected to similar restrictions, including the fact that will also not be able to get a US visa.

On the other hand, China and Russia have strongly criticised the US action. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the US was “thoughtlessly undermining” global stability, and warned it against “playing with fire”. Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday, “The US has seriously violated the basic norms of international relations and disturbed the relationship between China and the US. We strongly call on the US to remedy the mistake and cancel the sanctions. Otherwise, the US has to bear the consequences.”

One of the reasons the US imposed sanctions on China under CAATSA was to effectively respond to Russia’s meddling in the US elections, its competition with the US, its allies and its partners. Thus, while the US had already imposed several sanctions on Russia, this time the Trump administration added 33 additional persons to the CAATSA section 231 List of “Specified Persons” for being a part of or operating for or on behalf of, the defence or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.

Certainly, India is also closely watching this development since the sanction against China is also a signal to other countries that are in the process of buying Russian military hardware. This is evident from the fact that the US State Department has made it clear that Turkey would also be subjected to similar sanctions if it purchased S-400 missiles which are due to be delivered next year. Consequently, the CAATSA has also alarmed India because the Trump administration has not yet indicated whether it would exempt India from the US’ punitive action under this Act.

Thus, in this situation, India’s increasing dependence on US arms can be used by Washington to force New Delhi to toe its line on many issues, which in turn, endangers India’s strategic autonomy. At the same time, Russia is already disturbed by expanding ties between India and the US since the two sides signed the civil nuclear agreement in 2008. In fact, the Putin government has expressed guarded disappointment about India’s efforts towards improving deference military ties with the US. This is clearly evident from a marked shift in Russia’s South policy. In 2014 Russia lifted a ban on arms supplies to Pakistan. Moscow also signed a defence agreement and technical cooperation agreement with Pakistan in 2015 for arms supplies and sold it four helicopters in August 2017.

Today, talks for purchasing Russian SU-35 fighter jets are going on along with Pakistan’s reported desire to buy T-90 tanks from Russia. On September 29, Russia has also signed a memorandum of understanding on implementing a project to build an underwater gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India. At the same time, India is also worried about deepening defence ties between Russia and China, given the fact that even today, the Indian military uses Russian arms, and in fact, Russia accounted for 68 per cent of India’s arms import from 2012 to 2016. Rising tension between the US and Russia has placed India in a very volatile security situation.

To effectively defuse this situation, it can be hoped that during the upcoming visit of President Vladimir Putin, the two sides will infuse a momentum into their time-tested friendship. New Delhi must ensure that Russia does not foster defence ties with other South Asian countries at the cost of India’s security.

(This article was originally published on DNA. Read the original article)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)