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'Don't impose CAATSA sanctions on India for buying Russian S-400': US Senators to Joe Biden

Senators Mark Warner of the Democratic Party and John Cornyn of the Republican Party wrote to Biden, urging him to give India a national interest waiver under CAATSA since it is in America's national security interest.

Dont impose CAATSA sanctions on India for buying Russian S-400 US Senators to Joe Biden gcw
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Washington D.C., First Published Oct 27, 2021, 4:46 PM IST
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Two prominent US Senators on Tuesday asked President Joe Biden not to implement parts of the punishing Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against India for purchasing Russia's S-400 surface-to-air missile system. Senators Mark Warner of the Democratic Party and John Cornyn of the Republican Party wrote to Biden, urging him to give India a national interest waiver under CAATSA since it is in America's national security interest.

When issuing a waiver would enhance the United States national security interests, this waiver authority, as established into law by Congress, gives the President more leeway in imposing sanctions, the two Senators argued. Warner is the Chairman of the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, while Cornyn is the Republican Senate Minority Whip. Both are co-chairs of the Senate India Group, the US Senate's only country-specific caucus.

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The letter stated: "Despite dropping sales, we share your worries over the acquisition and continuous Indian integration of Russian equipment. We would encourage your administration to continue emphasising this issue to Indian authorities and engaging in constructive dialogue with them in order to continue pushing alternatives to acquiring Russian weaponry." While India has taken major measures to restrict its acquisitions of Russian military equipment, the two senators stated in their letter that the country has a long history of obtaining armaments from the Soviet Union, and later Russia.

After signing an initial deal with Russia two years before, India formally acquired Russian S-400 Triumf air-defence systems in 2018. We are afraid that the forthcoming transfer of these systems may result in sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was established to hold Russia responsible for its nefarious behaviour, they stated.

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In October 2018, India struck a USD 5 billion agreement with Russia to purchase five S-400 air defence missile systems, despite warnings from the then-Trump administration that proceeding with the sale might result in US sanctions under CAATSA. The S-400 is Russia's most sophisticated long-range surface-to-air missile defence system. CAATSA is a stringent US statute that allows the government to impose penalties on nations that buy substantial defence gear from Russia in retaliation to Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2014 and its intervention in the 2016 US presidential elections.

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