15 Jul 2022

US House of Representatives votes to lift sanctions on India over Russian S-400 missile deal

The US House of Representatives has approved by voice vote a legislative amendment granting India an exemption from punitive CAATSA sanctions for its purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia to help deter aggressors such as China.
The legislative amendment was approved on Thursday as part of an en bloc (all together as one) amendment to the National Defense Defense Act (NDAA).

Created and introduced by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, the amendment urges the Biden administration to use its authority to grant India an exemption under CAATSA (Counting America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) to help deter aggressors such as China.

CAATSA is a tough US law that authorizes the US administration to impose sanctions on countries that buy major defense hardware from Russia in response to Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

"The United States must stand with India in the face of China's escalating aggression. As vice chairman of the India Committee, I have worked to strengthen the partnership between our countries and ensure that India can defend itself along the India-China border," he added. said Mr. Khanna, a U.S. representative from California's 17th congressional district.

"This amendment is of the utmost importance and I am proud that it passed the House on a bipartisan basis," he said. The bill was introduced in 2017 and provides for punitive action by the US government against any country involved in transactions with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors.

In October 2018, India signed a $5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of S-400 air defense missile systems, despite warnings from the then-Trump administration that proceeding with the deal could trigger US sanctions. The S-400 is known as Russia's most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defense system. The US has already imposed CAATSA sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the S-400 series of anti-missile defense systems from Russia.

Following US sanctions against Turkey over the purchase of S-400 missile systems, there have been fears that Washington could impose similar punitive measures on India.

The US has not yet made any decision on possible sanctions or exemptions against India under the CATSAA for its purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken said in April.

The Ministry of External Affairs stated that India pursued an independent foreign policy and its defense acquisitions were guided by its national security interests.

In his remarks on the floor of the House, Mr. Khanna said there is no relationship more significant to US strategic interests than the US-India partnership.

"My bipartisan amendment to the NDAA represents the most significant piece of legislation for US-India relations outside of Congress since the US-India nuclear deal," said Khanna, a Democrat.

The legislation says the US-India Initiative for Critical and Emerging Technologies (ICET) is a welcome and necessary step to develop closer partnerships between the two countries' governments, academia and industry to address the latest advances in artificial intelligence and quantum computing . , biotechnology, aerospace and semiconductor manufacturing.
Such collaboration between engineers and computer scientists is vital to help ensure that the United States and India, as well as other democracies around the world, foster innovation and facilitate technological advances that continue to far outpace Russian and Chinese technologies.

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