Two US Senators have urged President Joe Biden to waive Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions against India for buying military arms from Russia. US Senators and India Caucus Co-Chairs Mark Warner and John Cornyn sent a letter to President Biden encouraging him to waive CAATSA sanctions against India. India signed a USD 5.43-billion deal with Russia for the purchase of five S-400 surface to air missile systems during the 19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit in New Delhi on October 5, 2019, for long-term security needs.
Washington had indicated that the Russian S-400 systems may trigger CAATSA sanctions. “While India has taken significant steps to reduce its purchases of Russian military equipment, it has a long history of purchasing arms from the Soviet Union, and later Russia. In 2018, India formally agreed to purchase Russian S-400 Triumf air-defence systems after having signed an initial agreement with Russia two years prior. We are concerned that the upcoming transfer of these systems will trigger sanctions under the CAATSA, which was enacted to hold Russia accountable for its malign behaviour,” the letter read.
The Senators said that while they shared the administration’s concern regarding the purchase and the continued Indian integration of Russian equipment, such transactions between New Delhi and Moscow were declining. “As such, we strongly encourage you to grant a CAATSA waiver to India for its planned purchase of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system. In cases where granting a waiver would advance the national security interests of the U.S., this waiver authority, as written into the law by Congress, allows the President additional discretion in applying sanctions,” they wrote. “We share your concerns regarding the purchase and the continued Indian integration of Russian equipment, even with these declining sales. We would encourage your administration to continue reinforcing this concern to Indian officials, and engaging with them constructively to continue supporting alternatives to their purchasing Russian equipment,” the senators added.