What Do Russian Sanctions Mean for USA-India Relations?


Posted: 9th April 2018 08:26

The Pentagon have confirmed that they are "very concerned" regarding the effect Russian sanctions may have on the bonds and defense ties currently enjoyed by the US and India. Russia has indicated that India could face sanctions over buying high value military defense items from Russia under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The question is: what will this mean for the economy as a whole? How will something such as this scenario affect the average man on the street, the typical small-to-medium business, or personal financial interests, such as long term care insurance? Given the billions which are spent on defense between the two countries, it could have a considerable effect on trade as a whole.

"We understand India's concern about this and we are very concerned as well. These sanctions are intended to target Russia - not India," Joe Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia, told PTI (via IndiaTimes).

India and Russia are negotiating a deal which would see the sale of five S-400 systems which are at an estimated value of $4.5 billion. This price includes radar, missile launchers and command center technology.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar had expressed worry during a US visit in March.

"We totally appreciate Indians concerns. It was raised in discussions during senior level meetings last month. We also are very concerned because we very much hope to maintain the momentum and the trajectory of this relationship. We want to deepen our cooperation and not to reduce it," Felter added.

CAATSA came into effect in January, and mandates the Trump administration to seek to impose penalties and punishments on those who deal with Russia in terms of defense and intelligence. Felter added that it is a concern held by the US government when there is no scope to cooperate:

"We are concerned about anything that's going to make it more difficult for us to cooperate. But it's just out of our hands this legislation. I can't anticipate what will actually happen. Any decision to impose sanctions is made outside of DoD," Felter said.

"We are committed to building our relationship and keeping it on the current trajectory. We appreciate that that defence trade is a key activity to build this partnership. We will continue to work diligently to maintain the positive trajectory we are on with this relationship and ideally deepen and expand our defence trade," he said.

Former State Department official Atman Trivedi claimed that a deal between Russia and India could "undermine serious American interests".

The US is the second-largest provider of defense equipment to India, after Russia. Should sanctions be placed on India, this could have a significant impact on American trade:

"These sanctions, like penalties the US imposed after India's nuclear tests in the 1990s, would sour relations. At worst, they could stoke domestic backlash and close off US defence sales to India for the foreseeable future. 

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