'US defense officials are trying to convince India to reject Russian S-400 missiles, but warn against slapping sanctions on the nation if it completes the deal. However, as with Turkey, efforts have so far failed.
India’s decision to purchase the S-400 air defense system from Russia, as well as the fact that it leaves New Delhi exposed to American sanctions, was discussed during a House Armed Service committee hearing on Wednesday.
Assistant Defence Secretary Randall Schriver told the lawmakers he thought “it would be an unfortunate decision” if the Indians completed the S-400 deal. “We are very keen to see them make an alternative choice,” he said, adding that “we’re working with them to provide potential alternatives”.
A similar line came from Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of the Indo-Pacific Command. “I continue to make the point with them that our interoperability and compatibility going forward will be advantaged with the purchase of US systems,” he said.
The purchase of advanced Russian arms makes any country a potential target for US secondary sanctions under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The US slapped some on China for buying Russian Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missiles in September last year.
This didn’t stop India from signing a contract a month later, purchasing five S-400 batteries with estimated worth of $5.43 billion. The two nations have a decades-long record of defense cooperation. Russian producers supplied some of the most advanced weapon systems to the Indian Armed Forces as well as contributed to joint projects like the BrahMos supersonic missile.
The threat of possible US sanctions was of course retained during the negotiations, with Indian officials insisting that New Delhi was pursuing an independent defense policy and was not dissuaded by it.
“When Russians asked about the American sanctions, my reply was, ‘Yes, we do appreciate that there could be sanctions on us, but we follow an independent policy,’” General Bipin Rawat, India’s chief of staff, said in the run-up to signing the deal.'
Read more: US top brass warn against punishing unbending India for buying Russia’s S-400 missiles
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