Modi Gov't Reveals Why India Bought Russia's S-400 'Triumf' Despite Threat of US Sanctions
The US State Department said in November that the Biden administration has yet to decide what to do once India takes delivery of the Russian S-400 air defence system. The first batch of the air missile defence system is expected to arrive in India in the second part of this month.
Narendra Modi's government assured parliament on Friday that it will not back down on its determination to receive five columns of the S-400 "Triumf" air missile defence system from Russia.
Ajay Bhatt, Minister of State for Defence, has said that the government is aware of all developments that may affect procurement of defence equipment, indicating the looming threat of sanctions against New Delhi under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). CAATSA is an American law passed in 2017 to prevent countries from buying Russian weapons.
"Government takes sovereign decisions based on threat perception, operational and technological aspects to keep the Armed Forces in a state of readiness to meet the entire spectrum of security challenges," the minister said.
Bhatt was replying to MPs in the lower house of the parliament over what the Americans felt about the $5.43 billion deal. The minister emphasised that the deliveries of S-400 systems are progressing according to contractual timelines.
On 24 November, US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said that the Biden administration has "not made a determination on a potential waiver with respect to Indian arms transactions with Russia". CAATSA does not have a blanket or country-specific waiver provision attached to it, the spokesman emphasised.
Section 231 of the CAATSA says that any "significant transactions" with Russian defence entities could trigger sanctions. The US administration applied sanctions to China and Turkey for buying S-400 missiles from Russia in 2018 and 2020, respectively.
Explaining the reasons for choosing the Russian system, Bhatt said that with the induction S-400, "air defence capability of the nation will be significantly enhanced."
"The S-400 Missile is a potent system in terms of its operational capability to provide continuous and effective air defence system to a very large area," the minister said.
The US had offered the anti-ballistic missile defence system Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 as an alternative for India rather than the Russian system.
More than 100 officers and personnel of the Indian Air Force underwent intense training in Moscow but they returned to India in the run-up to deployment of the S-400 system along the border with China.
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