In New Delhi Austin ‘Urges’ India Not to Buy Russian Air Defenses or Risk US Sanctions

'Threatening one’s prospective allies with sanctions is not the conventional way in which alliances are built'

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hinted during a visit to New Delhi on Saturday that India’s planned purchase of an advanced Russian missile system could trigger U.S. sanctions, but left room for New Delhi to back away from the deal.

“We certainly urge all our allies and partners to move away from Russian equipment … and really avoid any kind of acquisitions that would trigger sanctions on our behalf,” Austin said in response to a question from a reporter about India’s plan to acquire the S-400.

However, he stressed that Russia has not yet delivered the equipment to New Delhi. While Austin did discuss the system with his Indian counterpart, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, the two did not discuss potential sanctions, he said.

“We are aware of the fact that they have expressed interest in acquiring the system,” Austin acknowledged. But “they have not acquired an S-400 system yet, so there would be no reason for sanctions to be on the table.”

The United States has in recent years sought to pull India from Russia’s and China’s orbit with high-profile visits and increasing arms sales and military cooperation. But India’s planned purchase of the S-400 could prove a flashpoint, particularly after Congress imposed sanctions on Turkey for acquiring the same system.

U.S. officials have said the S-400 cannot co-exist with U.S. equipment, as it can be used to collect intelligence on U.S. systems. They are particularly concerned about Russia using the S-400 to learn about the F-35 fighter jet’s advanced capabilities.

Austin came under increased pressure to raise the issue with Indian officials this week after Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged the Pentagon chief to make clear the Biden administration’s opposition to the S-400 deal.

“If India chooses to go forward with its purchase of the S-400, that act will clearly constitute a significant, and therefore sanctionable, transaction with the Russian defense sector under Section 231 of CAATSA,” Menendez wrote in a recent letter to Austin, referring to the law called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

“It will also limit India’s ability to work with the US on development and procurement of sensitive military technology,” Menendez continued. “I expect you to make all of these challenges clear in conversations with your Indian counterparts.”

However, the law does leave room for the secretary of State to waive sanctions for any individual country that purchases Russian equipment.

Austin noted that the United States does work with countries that operate Russian equipment “from time to time.”

During the media briefing, Austin also addressed questions on Afghanistan, noting that President Joe Biden had not yet made a decision about the timing of any potential drawdown even as a May 1 deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country looms.

As the clock ticks down, Austin stressed that the Pentagon is keeping all its options on the table.

“There’s probably nobody who understands the physics associated with removing troops and equipment out of a place better than me,” Austin said, referring to his time overseeing the Iraq drawdown. “Whatever decision the president makes, you can trust it will be fully supported.”

As Biden weighs a decision, the Pentagon has presented options ranging from leaving by May 1 as planned to staying indefinitely at current troop levels, according to two defense officials familiar with the discussions.

Leaving by May 1 would be difficult but doable, one of the officials said. The U.S. currently has just under 3,500 troops on the ground, about 1,000 more than previously disclosed, the person said. This includes Special Operations personnel that were put “off the books,” a common practice.

Source: Politico

  1. nnn says

    The pigs continue to intimidate and blackmail everybody

  2. Mark says

    The United States is India’s dominant trade partner, taking almost 17% of India’s exports in 2019, for a total of just over $54 Billion.

    Like it or not, the more trade a partner does with the USA, the more vulnerable it is to sanctions. Since the USA has given up entirely on the notion of soft power, pretty much the only tool left in the toolbox is sanctions, and everyone knows they will use it on allies and enemies alike. The only variable is your degree of exposure, which affects how much it would hurt.

    Russia does little trade with America, and of the exports it does sell, the USA dares not sanction many of them, because it can’t get them anywhere else – the titanium it has to have to build its airliners, and 1960’s-era rocket engines the USA still cannot cost-effectively replace.

    There’s a useful lesson there for any country that wishes to tell Uncle Sam to pound sand when he threatens to get the sanctions out of the tickle trunk – minimize your trade exposure to the USA, don’t buy anything from the USA that you couldn’t get somewhere else if you had to, and try to sell the Americans products they couldn’t get somewhere else for the same price.

    Would they sanction India? It’s hard to say, because they are embarked on a hearts-and-minds seduction campaign to win India over, and imposing sanctions would almost certainly derail that. Then again, if they force India to abandon plans to acquire a frontline SAM system, they can’t leave India defenceless, and would probably want to sell them that shitty Patriot system. I’m pretty sure India wouldn’t want it, but that would leave Uncle Sam fishing for a system to sell them that would be very vulnerable to compromise by the Russians, who have good defense ties with India. America is not popular with Europe right now, and no Europeans are going to want to sell India a system the Russians might get to take apart.

  3. Mr Reynard says

    Quote:They are particularly concerned about Russia using the S-400 to learn about the F-35 fighter jet’s advanced capabilities.
    Hmm IMO the Russian have learned everything about F 35 by copying the performance of the Starfighter ??

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