As there is increasing possibility of the US President giving a waiver to India for having procured the Russian S 400 Triumf air and missile defence system, here is a look at the possible contract complications that may emerge without it.
United States CAATSA can pose contract complications for India in the light of continuing competition in US and Russia relations.
India and Russia have signed a contract for supply of the Russian manufactured S-400 Triumf (NATO SA-21 Growler) during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to India in October 2018.
The United States under Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) has raised the threat of sanctions against entities that undertake defence sales with Russian companies.
The Hindu reported a US State Department Spokesperson who said that "We urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that would trigger sanctions under CAATSA. The 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 defense system.”
The statement is a warning to India not to go for the S 400 deal with Russia. There are reports that the US is keen to sell the NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) to India jointly developed with Norway.
At the same time, other officials including the former US Defence Secretary James Mattis have indicated that the United States was open to discuss India’s need for importing arms from Russia in the light of the introduction of CAATSA.
Even though the United States may accord a waiver to India payment for the system and related issues are likely to result in complications.
Commercial considerations apart, the imposition of the bilateral sanctions on a third country by the United States raises issues related to national sovereignty for India.
Will India be willing to cow to US laid restrictions transcribed by some domestic media in New Delhi as “threats,” or should it demonstrate autonomy in decision making and bilateral relations.
India has adopted the latter option and opted to ink the contract for the S 400 Triunf.
The issue also reflects a commitment to projecting multilateralism in international relations.
The United States under the Trump Administration is increasingly getting into what some analysts have portrayed a New Cold War – confronting the strategic rivals China and Russia – named as adversaries in the National Defence Strategy and the National Security Strategy issued recently.
India wily nily will be drawn into the global power struggle yet New Delhi is not a small player and as emerging power credibility will be questioned if it acts beyond its national interest.