Washington: America will still discuss the possibility of sanctions under the CAATSA agreement with regard to India purchasing Russian missiles, revealed US satate Department Spokesperson Ned Price on Thursday. The missile deal between India and Russia was a reflection of Russia's attempts to "destabilise" the region, Price asserted.
India's green light to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Russia comes at a time of devolving relations between Russia and the US over a threat of Russian military invasion of Ukraine. New Delhi had previously thrown off US pressure to abandon the deal and is firmly set on acquiring the system, insisting that it is doing so purely for national security.
"Well in many ways, this doesn't change the concerns that we have with the S-400 system. I think it shines a spotlight on the destabilising role that Russia is playing not only in the region but potentially beyond as well," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Thursday at his daily news conference.
Price was responding to a question on implications of the Russian S-400 system to India on its bilateral ties with New Delhi given the unprecedented tension it is having with Moscow.
Under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), THE us can impose sanctions on countries which have dealings with Russia Iran and North Korea, especially significant financial and military transactions. The act was signed into law in 2017 under Donald Trump as a penalising measure for Russia's interference in global politics as a driving force.
"Whether it is India, whether it is any other country, we continue to urge all countries to avoid major new transactions for Russian weapon systems," Price said.
However, speculation is also rife that India may be granted relief from sanctions as US lawmakers fear that any punitive action could drive away an ally against China.
Earlier in January, Republican Senator Todd Young said that he was supportive of waiving sanctions in light of the history of US-India relations and India's own defense needs.
"India is a vital ally in our competition against China, and thus, I believe we should resist taking any actions that might drive them away from us and the Quad. I am therefore strongly supportive of waiving CAATSA sanctions against India, given our shared foreign policy interests," Senator Young said during a confirmation hearing for James O'Brien for State Department coordinator for Sanctions Policy.
Russia's ties with India in defense and financial sector have promoted close scrutiny front he US especially as it seeks to counter Russian influence in the Asia-Pacific region.