USA Forced To Back Track on Sanctions On India With Respect To Purchase of Weapons From Russia

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Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces, Veteran

The US, in true tradition of its Wild West, began threatening its friends and even allies with sanctions for doing business with Russia. It began dictating to various countries that they should not to buy Russian weapons.

Then suddenly Washington realised that apart from countries such as Grenada, Panama etc, others are not even listening. Trump defied common sense by threating a Country like India with sanction. How could he, the American Senate and the American Congress even think that what did not work in 1998 will work in 2018. So first they threatened, then started quietly begging India to do something to save the Americans from International ridicule.

Seeing that there was nothing, which India could do for them, they finally began the process to give out an exception to those sanctions( no one was asking them to do so, at least not India ) as a face saver and also in order to keep such potential friends in the fold. As it is India was going ahead with the purchase of one of the biggest advanced air-defense system before the end of the year. Americans were also told in no uncertain terms that no one can dictate terms to India regarding its friendship with Russia and arms purchase and other commercial activities.

India, which has a over 50 long years of defence relationship with Russia, has been working on a deal for the S-400 for several years. In early July, India’s Defense Acquisitions Council reportedly signed off on the acquisition, and two weeks after that, India’s Raksha Mantri said the deal to acquire the S-400 was at an “almost conclusive stage”. The US secretaries of defence and state were told regarding this very clearly and in the language they understood.

Now a senior Russia official says India may be receiving this new S-400 system by the end of 2018 itself.Dmitry Shugayev, head of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said during an interview with state-owned news channel Rossiya 24 on Wednesday that the main components of the S-400 contract had been determined and that a contract was expected to be signed in the next three months.

India currently operates a variety of Russian-made weapons systems imported directly or through Make in India. Some of them like MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighter jets are on their way out, whereas others like SUMKI 3 are there to give a run for the money to even the latest in the American arsenal. T90 tanks, T72 tanks, MI17 helicopters, VIKRAMADITYA the aircraft carrier with its MIG29s, other Russian ships etc are the mainstay of Indian defence forces.

With China, already having the S-300 air-defence system, and now adding the S-400 system with better radar and software as well as four new types of missiles, one of which has a range of 400km and can go to an altitude of nearly 200km ie the outer space itself. It is highly imperative that India too gets hold of this defensive system. Asking India not to do so is simply the height of naivety on the part of USA and its entire political and military administration.

The most foolish statement was given by Rep. Mac Thornberry, head of the House Armed Services Committee, when he uttered that the US was disappointed in Delhi’s decision to buy the S-400, which “threatens our ability to work interoperability in the future.” As if India is eagerly waiting for such interoperability and that too by breaking off its relationship with Russia.

At least Defence Secretary Jim Mattis pushed for an exemption for countries like India, arguing though wrongly that those countries were trying to reduce that reliance but needed to keep supply lines open to maintain what they already had. What and from whom India will buy, will be decided totally by India through purely commercial negotiations or through political negotiations.

The latest annual defence bill – signed by President Donald Trump on August 13 – included terms for countries to receive such an exemption, including a requirement that the buyer show it was not doing anything to undermine US operations or technology and that it was trying to reduce dependence on Russia or expand cooperation with the US. By this Americans are really aiming straight for SHANI (Saturn) and hoping against hope. In the foreseeable future India may be just doubling its arms purchase from Russia, in the form of Nuclear SSGNs, Destroyers, FGFA fighters and what not.

USA should instead concentrate on its allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even NATO allies like Turkey, whose ties with the US and NATO have been strained. They will reportedly be getting the advanced missile system in 2019.

The article is written by Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran Special. This article has been posted with the author’s permission. Views expressed are personal.