(This was originally published in Economic Times by Manu Pubby)
Bengaluru: No Blanket Waiver On S-400, Urge India To Avoid Russian Deals: US The US has urged India to refrain from military transactions with Russia, saying that there is no blanket waiver under its Sanctions Act for the recent S-400 missile system purchase, in the first detailed comments on the tricky issue after the Biden administration has come to power.
Speaking ahead of the Aero India summit in Bengaluru, the head of the US delegation has said India is an important and trusted partner for Indo-Pacific security and Washington DC is keen to work with India to develop key capabilities in the quest for self-reliance. On the S-400 issue — India has ordered the Russian surface to air missile system with deliveries expected towards the end of this year — US charged’affaires Don Heflin said there is a provision for case-by-case waiver of sanctions but no assurance has been given to India. “We urge all of our allies and partners to forego transactions with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under the countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act passed by our Congress. Now, some people ask, if there’s a blanket or a blanket for one country waiver provision, there’s not. It’s on a case-by-case basis and we’ve not made any waiver determinations with respect to Indian transactions with Russia,” Heflin said. The S-400 purchase could be one of the prickly bilateral issues that will need to be resolved, given that formal deliveries for the system are starting shortly. Sanctions were triggered against Turkey after it first received the system and the country was kicked out of the Joint Strike Fighter Program by the US.
Dependent on Russia as a prime supplier in the past, India has been diversifying its basket of weapon systems and has ordered significant weapons from the US in recent years, including transport aircraft, helicopters and assault rifles.
Heflin said the US is keen to associate with the Make in India initiative as well. “The US recognises that India desires to produce more of its military equipment within the country; we understand that and look forward to our growing partnership in this effort,” he said.
The US has sent a 100-strong delegation for the AeroIndia show, with officials underlining the growing strategic relationship, beyond mere arms sales. “India is one of our premier security partners in the Indo-Pacific. And together we are deepening defence ties through avenues like exercises, cooperative agreements, and the integration of advanced US defence systems and platforms into the Indian armed services,” Kelli L Seybolt, deputy undersecretary for the air force, international affairs, said. Besides top US companies, a major highlight of the show will be the presence of a B-1B Lancer heavy bomber, which will perform a “fly-by” during the inaugural ceremony on Wednesday. This is the first time an American bomber has ever touched down in India, though there was a flypast in the last edition of the show.