Imposing curbs on India over defence deal with Russia will hit US: Mattis: Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday appealed to the Congress to urgently provide India with the national security waiver, saying imposing sanctions on it under a newly-enacting law for buying the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia would only hit the US.
Imposing curbs on India over defence deal with Russia will hit US: Mattis
During a Congressional hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr Mattis tells American lawmakers that the national security waiver should urgently provide to India and other countries which are trying to turning away from formerly Russian-source weapons to avoid sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
CAATSA, which was signed into law in the year August 2017 and went into effect in January this year, mandates the Trump administration to punish entities engaging in a significant transaction with the defence or intelligence sectors of Russia.
Moscow deal 5 S-400 systems worth $4.5 billion
India is currently in an advanced stage of negotiations with Russia for five S-400 systems worth an estimated $4.5 billion.
The S-400 Triumph long-range air defence missile system can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km.
The S-400 missile system can fire three types of missiles and simultaneously engage 36 targets, thereby creating a layered defence.
Unlike other legislation, there is no national security interest waiver under CAATSA. And imposing sanctions on countries like India would only hit the United States, Mattis says.
“There is no national security waiver to what is referring to as the CAATSA Act.
The specific act that says that, if another nation buys military equipment from Russia, then we will not sell them ours,” Mr Mattis tells lawmakers
“There are nations in the world which are trying to turn away from formerly Russian-sourced weapons and systems like this.
We only need to look at India, Vietnam and some others to recognise that, eventually, we are going to paralyse ourselves,” he says.
So what we ask for is that the Senate and the House pass a national security waiver in the hand of the secretary of state I am not asking for myself. Foreign policy is driving from Foggy Bottom.
So, if he has the waiver authority and I can go to him and show it is in our best interest, then we get internal management of this process, but it keeps us from being boxed in by the Russians, Mr Mattis says.
The Defence Secretary was responding to a question from Senator Jack Reed on Russia sanctions.
In the wake of the annexation of Crimea and the activity in Ukraine, Congress, in the year 2015 NDAA, prohibiting bilateral military cooperation with Russia, which, at the time, seemed to make perfectly good sense, he says.
‘Very challenging situation.’
At this moment, when we are in a very challenging situation in many areas of the world, will it make sense to review those provisions and give you more flexibility in ways in which you could conduct a military-to-military dialogue with Russia in certain situations. Mr Reed is asking.
Senator Tom Cotton is also raising the CAATSA issue.
You mentioned two specific countries, India and Vietnam, that have legacy Russian systems.
They may face real challenges going cold turkey, so to speak, under CAATSA. So, you are suggesting the national security waiver as a way that this Congress can empower soon-to-be-Secretary Pompeo to address the concerns that you have with those two countries, is that right? Mr Cotton is asking.
That is correct. And there are other countries. Indonesia, for example, is in the same situation, trying to shift to more of our aeroplanes, our systems.
But they have got to do something to keep their legacy military going,” Mr Mattis says.
Over the past several weeks, the Pentagon, lawmakers and experts have raised concerns over CAATSA legislation.
Top American lawmakers and experts have warned that imposition of sanctions on India under a newly-enacting law if it buys the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia can be disastrous for the Indo-U.S. ties.
At an event on the Capitol Hill, experts and lawmakers on Thursday warning that any imposition of sanctions on India, which is now a significant defence partner, can be disastrous for the bilateral relationship and as such there is an urgent need to prevent that from happening.
CAATSA sanctions will damage US-India relationship, warned Keith Webster, who represented Pentagon in the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative in the previous Obama Administration.
He is currently president of the defence and aerospace export council US Chamber of Commerce.
I do think, it CAATSA is a severe issue that needs to be dealing. There needs to be a dialogue between the US and India.
Our goal is not to sanction India, Congressman Joe Crowley, House Democratic Caucus Chairman, said at the US-India Friendship event.
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