Now, US envoy warns India on S-400 deal with Russia, says this about Indo-US relations

Amid reports that the US may impose sanctions against India over S-400 air defence systems with Russia, outgoing US envoy Kenneth Juster said on Tuesday (January 5) that the Indian government may have to make hard decisions regarding its decision to purchase S-400 air defence system from Russia.

Juster issued the warning after delivering a farewell address at an event organised by the Observer Research Foundation. The senior US diplomat, however, asserted that the US does not want to impose sanctions under CAATSA against its friends. But he noted that very soon India would have to make choices between “trade-offs” and acquiring modern military hardware from the US.

“The CAATSA sanctions were never designed to harm friends and allies. They were aimed at a particular country. And there are many variables involved in it and I think…I would put that issue to the side because I see other issues that potentially affect the future of the defence relationship,” he said.

“As systems get more technologically advanced, country A that does not get along with country B will be less willing to sell technology that could potentially be compromised to country B,” he said, in an oblique reference to concerns that the S-400 could gather the electronic signatures of US-origin aircraft operated by India. We haven’t hit that point yet but that could come down in the future and that will be an issue that – there are trade-offs. India has to decide how much it matters to get the most sophisticated technology, how much it matters to be as inter-operable as it can be, within its technology and potentially with other friendly forces, and how much it matters to diversify its sources of procurement,” he added.

Recently, a US Congressional report has warned that India’s decision to ink USD 5.4 billion deal to purchase S-400 air defence system from Russia may prompt Washington to impose sanctions on India.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its report to Congress that India is “eager for more technology-sharing and co-production initiatives, while the United States urges more reforms in India’s defence offsets policy and higher Foreign Direct Investment caps in its defence sector”. The CRS is an independent and bipartisan research wing of US Congress.

India and Russia had inked a USD 5 billion deal in October 2018 under which it was agreed that Moscow will give five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems to India. India decided to finalise the deal despite a warning from the US that the US may impose sanctions on New Delhi if it goes ahead with the deal.

On December 15, the US had imposed sanctions on Turkey for acquiring S-400 air defence systems from Russia.

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