No US Sanctions on India for Buying S-400 from Russia: Official

Foreign Affairs

New York: India may not face the US sanctions for purchase of Russian Triumf S-400 though New Delhi would have to tighten defence technology security to prevent Moscow snooping, a senior US official indicated.

The State Department official, who addressed Turkey buying the Russian S-400 missile defence system, did not directly address India acquiring the same system when it was raised during a briefing on December 21, but brought up security issues in cooperating with India.

The State Department approved the $1 billion sale of advanced MK 45 5 inch/62 calibre (MOD 4) navy guns to India this week even though India had paid the Russian contractor $800 million as an advance in August for five S-400 units valued at about $5.4 billion.

The official’s response appeared to give scope for India to get a waiver from the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which could be applied to India for buying equipment from Russian companies. CAATSA bans countries from buying equipment worth more than $15 million from defence Russian companies listed under it and imposes sanctions against them.

The US has not yet introduced CAATSA sanctions against Turkey, a NATO partner, but has refused to provide it with the advanced F-35 stealth combat jets.

India is not seeking such advanced armaments from the US at this time.

The official appeared to appreciate the problems India faces in moving away from Russian defence supplies because of its decades-long dependence on the Soviet Union.

The official said that when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and another official visited New Delhi they “had a consistent line and a discourse with our Indian counterparts at our respective levels, which is we recognize how India suffered at the fall of Soviet Union” because of its dependence on it for defence equipment.

The official added, “It was catastrophic if one was serving in the Ministry of Defence in India in the early 1990s. So we get that.”

The official said that India should take stringent measures to prevent defence technology leakage.