US President Donald Trump, though all set to leave office seems to be in a bid to create utmost conflicts while on the way out. With only weeks left before handing over power, his stances and moves are such as to sow seeds of disquiet at international level. The latest example is the move to impose sanctions on NATO ally Turkey and the muscle flexing on certain other countries including India. The provocation for Trump's 'sentence' on Turkey is the latter's steps to purchase Russian S-400 Triumf missile system. Even earlier Turkey had angered Washington through its stances on the Syrian crisis, Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and West Asian conflicts. It is as a culmination of this that the US has declared sanctions on Turkey in the name of Russian missile system deal.
The reason the US cites for its action is not only that the military co-operation with Russia is incompatible with NATO, but also that Russia which sells such equipment is a threat to the NATO alliance. At the same time, experts believe that the S-400 is the most efficient system at present with a surveillance range of 600 kilometers and can hit targets 400 kilometers away. Therefore, right at the time Russia announced its new defence system, countries like China, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia an Qatar had shown interest in buying it. And the US by itself and on behalf of NATO, had promptly threatened these consumer countries. When in spite of this Turkey was not ready to budge, the US suspended supply of arms and training to Ankara.
To explain the US stand, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the sanction was prompted by Turkey's dismissal of US objections to buying Russian missiles when NATO itself had the arms to meet Turkey's military requirements. Since Turkey is a major ally of NATO, America also hoped that Turkey would regret the decision and retract. But Turkey on its part took the line that its purchase of arms that it required would not affect its status in NATO or its bilateral relations with other countries. Turkey's defence ministry in an explanatory note clarified that Trump himself had earlier made allowance for Turkey's Russian deal. The current US sanctions are applicable for Turkey's procurement agency - Presidency of Defence Industries, its head Ismail Demir and three other senior officials. All the assets of these four officials within America's jurisdiction have been frozen and their entry to the US barred. In addition, all the export licences of the Turkish agency and loan agreements will also be cancelled.
Like Turkey, India too comes into the bad books of the US on account of similar arms deal. While announcing the sanctions decision, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation, Christopher Ford has warned that as per the US federal law 'Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions – CAATSA', the federal administration is entitled to impose sanctions on any country buying Russian arms, and therefore they should be on guard against this. This statement targets countries that have concluded agreement with Russia, including India. It is to be noted that In 2018, India had signed a deal with Russia to buy five units of S-400 anti-missile system at a cost of USD 5.43 billion, and since then America has been threatening sanctions against India.
At the same time, however, the country's arms deals with America have been going on unhindered. During Trump's visit to India in 2019, arms purchase deals worth USD 3.5 billion were concluded between the two countries. Again during last October, other defence agreements were also signed. In spite of these, America has not taken India off its threat of embargo. Experts think that even after Joe Biden comes succeeds Trump, the CAATSA threat may not be waived. The majority of Democrats are of the opinion that the law and sanctions under it should be maintained in order to retain America's supremacy. It is exactly in anticipation of this that Turkey declared it will not succumb to threats and will proceed with the deal. India too indicates in effect that it will not go back from the deal. But it remains to be seen whether after the departure of Modi's close friend Trump, and in the new establishment under Joe Biden it will make any difference in stances, given that Biden is not as sympathetic to Modi's Hindutva politics as Trump and is insistent on US hegemony. Whichever direction the US moves, it is still uncertain whether India will adopt a stance as determined as Turkey's.