India could bypass US restrictions on S-400 deal, Biden adviser signals | India News
“The government has made it clear that it is preventing India from proceeding with Russian equipment acquisitions and there are important geostrategic considerations, particularly in relation to the (incomprehensible) relationship with China. So I think we need to look at what the balance is,” James O’Brien, President Biden’s nominee for US State Department Sanctions Policy Coordinator, said at his confirmation hearing, bowing to broad sentiment in the administration and in congress give new delhi a passport.
Hints that India may survive sanctions on the systems Moscow has already supplied also came from statements by lawmakers, who noted that New Delhi is in the process of acquiring new frigate ships from Russia.
“India is a key ally in our competition against China and as such I believe we should resist any action that might drive them away from us and the Quad. Therefore, given our shared foreign policy interests, I strongly support the waiver of CAATSA sanctions on India,” said Indiana Senator Todd young said. Despite growing anti-Russia sentiment over its alleged US election meddling and aggressive stance in its sphere of influence, the Biden administration and lawmakers appear determined to give New Delhi enough leeway for now in exchange for assurances that India will wean itself from Russian military supplies.
“As most here know, the Indians have many outdated systems from earlier decades, and they are interoperable with the Russians’ systems. And the Indians are trying to defend their land borders from Chinese incursions and the Indian Ocean from an increasingly adventurous and lawless Blue Ocean Navy in the People’s Liberation Army,” Young noted in his support for a US domestic law waiver known as Countering America’s Adversaries By the Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
India has signed a $5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defense missile system, despite a warning from the then Trump administration that continuing the deal could result in US sanctions. Delivery of the systems began at the end of last year.
The US government has also struggled to give India a passport while CAATSA is invoked against Turkey, a NATO ally whose ties with Washington have plummeted recently. When asked about this by Young, O’Brien said it was difficult to compare the two situations and described India as “a partner of growing importance”.
“India has some decisions to make, so it would be premature to say more. But I look forward to working with you and other interested members,” he added.