According to a senior administration official, US President Joe Biden will decide whether to apply or waive sanctions on India, one of America’s key allies, for its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system under the CAATSA statute.
Under the Countering America’s Adversaries via Penalties Act (CAATSA), the US administration is required to impose sanctions on any country that has significant transactions with Iran, North Korea, or Russia.
In response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and alleged intervention in the 2016 US presidential election, CAATSA is a strong US law that allows the administration to impose penalties on countries that buy key defence hardware from Russia.
On Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism that it was up to President Biden to decide whether or not to apply or waive CAATSA sanctions on India.
“I can guarantee you that the administration will adhere to and completely enforce the CAATSA statute, and that we will consult with Congress as we proceed with any of them.”
“Unfortunately, I am not in a position to prejudge the President’s or Secretary of State’s decisions on the waiver or sanctions issues, or if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have an impact on those decisions,” he said.
According to Lu, the Biden administration has yet to decide whether or not to impose sanctions on India under CAATSA.
“India is becoming a critical security partner for us.” And so we value moving forward with that collaboration, and I’m hoping that part of what happens as a result of Russia’s harsh criticism is that India realises it’s time to close the gap,” Lu said.
Because of the extensive sanctions currently imposed on Russian institutions, a senior American diplomat said it will be extremely difficult for any government to buy big defence systems from Russia.
“We’ve witnessed cancellations of MiG 29 orders, Russian helicopter orders, and anti-tank weapon orders from India in the previous few weeks,” Lu said.
Lu’s comments come as India was chastised by US senators, both Republicans and Democrats, for voting against a UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday.
A total of 141 countries voted in favour of the resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while five countries voted against it and 35 countries abstained, including India.