US trying to undermine S-400 deal, India has shown it’s a sovereign country: Russia’s Lavrov

  • The Russian foreign minister was referring to the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that the US uses to bring sanctions against nations that have economic and defence ties to Russia, North Korea and Iran.
Sergei Lavrov speaks with the media in New Delhi(REUTERS )
Sergei Lavrov speaks with the media in New Delhi(REUTERS )
Published on Dec 06, 2021 06:22 PM IST
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Written by Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday hailed the S-400 air defence missile systems deal between India and his country, saying the US tried to strong-arm India into opting out of the pact but New Delhi went through anyway.

“We witnessed attempts on the part of the United States to undermine this cooperation and to make India obey the American orders, to follow the American vision of how this region should be developed,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

“Our Indian friends clearly and firmly explained that they are a sovereign country. They will decide whose weapons to buy and who is going to be a partner of India in this and in other areas,” Lavrov, who is in India, said.

The Russian foreign minister was referring to the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that the US uses to bring sanctions against nations that have economic and defence ties to Russia, North Korea and Iran.

The US federal law allows the triggering of sanctions against nations that aim to procure major defence hardware from Russia. This was brought as a response to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.

The US said in November it is yet to determine whether it will waive those sanctions with respect to the deal between India and Russia. “We have 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,” the US state department said in a statement.

“We urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA),” the US urged through its statement while highlighting that it values its strategic partnership with India and expects that the defence partnership between both nations can continue.

The US, which is also India’s main defence partner, has expressed its disapproval towards the deal but New Delhi has contended the negotiations began 5 years before CAATSA was enacted, according to a report by HT.

A purchase agreement was signed in 2015 and the deal worth $4.5 billion was finalised in 2018. The US earlier sanctioned trade partner China and Nato ally Turkey for purchasing the systems but New Delhi did not budge despite the efforts made to stall the acquisition during the Trump era.

New Delhi’s stance could also be emboldened following the AUKUS initiative which took the Quad nation’s - of which India is a partner - by surprise and even angered France as Australia cancelled the submarine deal to sign a fresh deal with the US. Russia being India’s longtime defence partner since its Independence also plays a huge role in the ties between both nations.

India and Russia signed four defence agreements on Monday as both nations kicked off the first-ever India-Russia '2+2' ministerial dialogue. One of the main agreements signed by both nations will see the Indian Army get more than 600,000 AK-203 assault rifles manufactured through Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited (IRPL) at a cost of 5,100 crore

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022