Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile system supply agreement worth about $5 billion with India during his annual bilateral meeting in New Delhi last week, which aroused widespread concern in the international community. A State Department spokesman threatened that if India did not abandon the purchase plan, the United States could use the Sanctions Act Against the American Enemy (CAATSA) to impose sanctions. Russia's state news agency said on the 8th that the Indian Army Chief of Staff Rawat responded that India pursues an "independent policy".
It is understood that CAATSA stipulates that any country conducting important transactions with Russia, Iran and North Korea will be subject to U. S. sanctions. But the president of the United States has the right to exempt specific countries or specific transactions from sanctions. Lavater stressed that India's independent policy and the possible sanctions of the United States will not affect India's decision. India will continue to cooperate with Russia and the United States in the military field. Russia's satellite network says India is trying to convince Washington that, given the long history of Russian-Indian defense cooperation, the country has reason to be free of sanctions. However, India's "Economic Times" said on the 8th, some U.S. experts believe that considering the changes in the internal political environment of the U.S. government and U.S. President Trump's strong criticism of India's trade and tariffs, India wants to be exempted from sanctions is not easy. But there is no denying that India has the possibility of immunity. U.S. Defense Secretary Matisse and Secretary of State Pompeio are said to be in favor of granting India immunity, and Trump is likely to use tariffs as a bargaining ground for such immunity.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted people familiar with the situation as saying that CAATSA provides for three cases of exemption. First, whether exemption is related to the national security interests of the United States. Second, the purchasing country is taking or will take measures to reduce the import of major defense equipment and advanced conventional weapons from Russia. Thirdly, the purchasing country cooperates with the U.S. government in dealing with other security issues that are vital to the strategic interests of the United States under specific circumstances. Analysis shows that the above second and third are closely related to India. Over the past decade or so, India has been gradually reducing its dependence on Russian imports of weapons and expanding its imports from the United States. In addition, India is an important U.S. security and defense partner and will buy billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment from the United States in the future. "I don't like to predict, but sanctions against India are bound to push India's defense market to Russia," Schwartz, a former director of the U.S. Defense Department's India Center and now a member of the U.S. Indian Business Council, told PTI. "This is just the opposite of what CAATSA intended. The United States will not benefit from such sanctions. "
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