Issue Brief on “Would India Fall under CAATSA Sanctions?”

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Moscow has started supplying New Delhi with S-400 air defence missile systems, said Dmitry Shugayev, the head of the Russian military cooperation agency. S-400 air defence missile systems deal between Russia and India worth around US$5.5 billion was signed in 2018 for five long-range surface-to-air missile systems that New Delhi believes are crucial to counter China.[1] The deal attracts a great deal of attention from the experts to the U.S. legislation called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). CAATSA is the US Federal Law signed on August 2, 2017, that requires the US President to sanction Russian, North Korean and Iranian, sectors, punishing direct or indirect support of them. The three sections of CAASTA are aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear missiles program, reducing Russian growing influence in Europe and Eurasia and curbing North Korean weapons of mass destruction.[2]

The U.S. applied CAASTA on Turkey in January 2021 after buying S-400 systems from Moscow. But sanctioning India under CAATSA appears to be a herculean task for Washington nor does New Delhi worry about  CAATSA as it considers it the US law, and not one by the United Nations. In March 2021 Lloyd Austin, visiting the U.S. Secretary of Defense raised concerns over India’s planned procurement of the S-400 air defence missile. He had accentuated that the US allies and partners ought to shun “any kind of acquisitions that will trigger sanctions”.[3]Austin soon after clarified that the question of sanctioning India was not under consideration as New Delhi had not taken delivery of the system; sanctions would be applied only when deliveries took place, Austin added.[4] Interestingly, India at the current juncture has purchased S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia. A few queries remain unanswered. Will the US impose sanctions against India under CAATSA? If sanctions are applied what would be the Indian reaction?

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