Thursday, August 18, 2022

US House approves CAATSA waiver for India over S-400 deal with Russia

Authored and introduced by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, the amendment wants the Biden administration to use its authority to exempt India from the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in order to deter aggressors like China

New Delhi: The US House of Representatives has passed by voice vote a legislative amendment seeking to exempt India from a law that sanctions nations for purchasing military hardware from Russia, a report in The Tribune, Chandigarh, says.

Authored and introduced by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, the amendment wants the Biden administration to use its authority to exempt India from the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in order to deter aggressors like China.

Historic amendment

The amendment is the most significant piece of legislation for US-India relations out of Congress since the US-India nuclear deal. 

While New Delhi got waiver, the US slapped sanctions on Turkey for buying S-400 system and also banned sales of an advanced F-16C and its modernisation kits to Turkey

CAATSA enacted in 2017

The US enacted CAATSA as part of its strategy to tighten the noose around Russia

The US has already sanctioned China and Turkey for purchasing S-400s from Russia

Though the Senate is yet to take up the issue, the fact that it was not debated separately means that it may have a smooth run in the other House as well. Specifically, Ro Khanna sought a legislative amendment seeking a waiver to India against CAATSA sanctions for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia.

India has already made the down payment for the $5.4 billion contract with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence system. 

While New Delhi got waiver, the US slapped sanctions on Turkey for buying S-400 system and also banned sales of an advanced F-16C and its modernisation kits to Turkey

The waiver for New Delhi and sanctions on Ankara, which also bought the S-400, has left the Turkish state-run media fuming. It is also upset that the Bill passed on Thursday, July 14, of which the India-specific amendment is a part, bans sales of an advanced F-16C and its modernisation kits to Turkey.

“The US must stand with India in the face of escalating aggression from China… and ensure that India can defend itself along the Indian Chinese border,” said Khanna.

“This amendment is of the utmost importance, and I am proud to see it pass the House on a bipartisan basis,” he said about the legislative amendment that was passed en bloc (all together as a single unit) during floor consideration of the National Defence Authorisation Act. 

The US had enacted CAATSA in 2017 as part of its continuously escalating noose around Russia. Besides Turkey, Washington has already sanctioned China for purchasing the same system. New Delhi has taken the position that its arms purchases were part of an independent foreign policy.

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