US Senators Urge Biden To Avoid Indian Sanctions Over Russian Deal

US President Joe Biden meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, United States on September 24, 2021. REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein

NEW DELHI, October 27 (Reuters) – Two US senators have urged President Joe Biden to lift sanctions on India for its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, saying such a punitive measure would endanger the growing cooperation.

India signed a $ 5.5 billion deal with Russia in 2018 for five of the surface-to-air missile systems intended for defense against longtime adversaries Pakistan and China, with which it is stranded in a dead end on their disputed border.

But the proposed transfer has caused friction with the United States, which passed a law in 2017 under which any country engaged in Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors could face sanctions.

Republican Senator John Corny and Democratic Senator Mark Warner wrote to Biden on Tuesday calling for a waiver for reasons of national security and broader cooperation.

“We believe there is a national security imperative to lift the sanctions,” the senators said in their letter which they published in a press release.

They said they feared the transfer of Russian systems could trigger sanctions against India under America’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was enacted to hold Russia responsible for interference in the US elections, cyber-hacking and Ukrainian intimidation.

India has made a down payment on the S400 systems and the first set of missile batteries are expected to start deploying later this year.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey for purchasing the same equipment last year.

Cornyn and Warner, who are co-chairs of an Indian Senate caucus, said they share the administration’s concerns over Russia, but warned of damage to cooperation with India if sanctions were to be imposed.

“We believe that the application of CAATSA sanctions could have a deleterious effect on a strategic partnership with India, while failing to achieve the intended objective of deterring Russian arms sales,” they wrote. .

India has reduced its purchases of military equipment from Russia, which for years has been its main source, with a 53% drop in Russian arms exports to India from 2016 to 2020 compared to five years ago previous ones.

India’s defense deals with the United States, by contrast, increased with sales of $ 3.4 billion in fiscal 2020. These are positive trends, senators said.

“Imposing sanctions at this point could derail deepening cooperation with India in all aspects of our bilateral relationship – from vaccines to defense cooperation, from energy strategy to technology sharing. “

Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani Editing by Robert Birsel

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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