India’s decision to buy SU-400 Triumf missile air defence system from Russia could conclude with sanctions from US for violating CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).
Under CAATSA, “a significant transaction” with Russian agency and military services including arms manufacturers could bring upon secondary sanctions of the kind put on Chinese military procurers – Equipment Development Department. The sanctions would mean denial of export licenses and blocked foreign exchange transactions.
The CAATSA sanctions are not aimed at undermining the defence capabilities of any country. Instead, it is aimed at imposing costs upon Russia in response to its malign activities.
“The sanctions aren’t intended to adversely impact countries like India. They are intended to have an impact on the sanctioned country, which is Russia. And so we’ll work our way through the waiver decision as the days and weeks proceed, and we’ll do that alongside out partner, India, as well”, said US Defence Secretary James Mattis in the 2+2 Dialogue held in New Delhi.
“We want to stress that the legislative standard here is a significant transaction with an entity that appears on the List of Specified Persons. We took these actions because China took delivery of 10 Sukhoi fighter aircraft, specifically Su-25s, in December of 2017, after the CAATSA statute came into force. It also took delivery of a batch of S-400 – sometimes known as SA-21 – surface-to-air missile systems or related equipment in January of this year,” a US official said.
The CAATSA was imposed on Iran, North Korea and Russia. US might take a similar action against countries like Turkey for engaging in a similar deal with Russia.
“So, while decisions on other cases have yet to be made, and indeed other transactions have yet to occur, we hope that at least this step will send a signal of our seriousness and perhaps encourage others to think twice about their own engagement with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors, which would of course be precisely what we hope Congress intended, and what we are required to do pursuant to the fact,” the official said.
US is working to appropriately and lawfully impose CAATSA Section 231 and exercise waiver authority only where it makes sense.