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Top Republican Senator urges Biden admin to give CAATSA waiver to India

Senator Todd Young. Photo: Twitter/@SenToddYoung  

A top Republican Senator has urged the Biden administration to give CAATSA waiver to India, saying that any plan to impose sanctions on New Delhi for buying Russian S-400 missile defence system would undermine its relationship with the U.S. and also affect the QUAD’s ability to counter China.

Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA is a tough U.S. law which authorises the administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia.

Senator Todd Young, a key member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine that if the Joe Biden administration imposes sanctions on India, it would not deter New Delhi’s purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia, but would weaken two strategic fronts at a critical time — undermine Washington’s relationship with India and also affect the QUAD’s ability to counter China.

“Moreover, Russia could take advantage of the sanctions to reclaim its role as India’s military partner of choice. Paradoxically then, sanctioning New Delhi over its Russian-made defence system would actually prove to be a geostrategic victory for Moscow,” Mr. Young wrote.

Alternatively, he urged the Biden Administration to give CAATSA waiver to India. The waiver is intended at preventing U.S. sanctions on countries like India.

In October 2018, India signed a $5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, notwithstanding warnings from the then Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite U.S. sanction.

In 2019, India made the first tranche of payment of around $800 million to Russia for the missile systems.

The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.

“By invoking the waiver authority and allowing India’s purchase of Russian weaponry, the Biden administration can make clear that China is the primary geostrategic threat to the United States,” Mr. Young, a Republican Senator from Indiana, said.

“As the United States acknowledges that fact, the White House must then prioritise — in word and deed — relationships with those countries critical to meeting that threat head-on. By doing so, all Quad countries will benefit,” Mr. Young said.

Quad — comprising Japan, India, Australia and the United States — aims at developing a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence amidst China’s increasing military muscle-flexing in the strategically important region.

Mr. Young said on April 12 that in recent weeks, the Democratic chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Bob Menendez has called for India to be threatened with sanctions under Section 231 of the CAATSA if it moves forward with the purchase of the Russian missile system.

Section 231 imposes sanctions on entities that “operate for or on behalf of” Russian defence or intelligence sectors.

“Given India’s historical skepticism of international cooperation and long-standing ties with Russia, any sanctions would be amplified and leveraged by those within India who remain trepidatious about deeper engagement with the West, such as the Non-Aligned Movement,” Mr. Young wrote in the magazine.

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Printable version | May 19, 2021 9:22:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/top-republican-senator-urges-biden-admin-to-give-caatsa-waiver-to-india/article34309457.ece

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