On Monday (December 15) the United States imposed sanctions on Turkey for the acquisition of S-400 air defense systems from Russia. It may be recalled that the ground-to-air defense system was acquired by Turkey from Russia in mid-2019. At that time, Turkey had claimed that the acquisition did not pose a threat to NATO allies.
India has also signed a similar deal with Russia and is expected to receive the S-400 air defense system from Moscow in 2021. US sanctions on Turkey have made India cautious and New Delhi is closely monitoring the decision made by the US administration. Notably, outgoing President Donald Trump has given up on India and it remains to be seen whether the incoming Biden administration will continue with the same.
Why does India need the S-400 air defense missile system?
The S-400 Triumf is a mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system and is considered the most dangerous modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world. Experts say the S-400 is much better than the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
The system is capable of tracking 100 air targets and engaging six simultaneously.
This advanced air defense system is crucial for India because China is also buying the system. Although China sees the acquisition of the S-400 as a “game changer”, it is not very effective against India.
The acquisition of the S-400 system is very important for India to counter the attacks in a war on two fronts.
What is CAATSA?
Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was unanimously passed by the United States Congress in 2017. The main objective of the law is to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.
Section 231 of the law authorizes the President of the United States to impose at least five of the 12 sanctions listed – listed in section 235 of the law – on persons engaged in a “significant transaction” with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors.
CAATSA, if implemented in its strict form, would severely affect India’s arms supply from Russia.
In addition to the S-400 air defense system, CAATSA can also affect Project 1135.6 frigates and Ka226T helicopters. It will impact joint ventures such as Indo Russian Aviation Ltd, Multi-Role Transport Aircraft Ltd and Brahmos Aerospace.
“We hope other countries around the world will also acknowledge that the United States will fully implement the sanctions of Section 231 CAATSA and should avoid further acquisitions of Russian equipment, particularly those that could trigger sections,” added the Deputy Secretary for international security and non-proliferation Christopher Ford said after announcing sanctions against Turkey.
It may be recalled that in 2018 India had signed an agreement worth $ 5.43 billion for five units of the S-400 anti-missile system from Russia. The Indian government had decided to finalize the deal despite US objections.
The United States has repeatedly warned India against buying arms from Russia, threatening to impose ancestors under CAATSA and the incentive of an alternative anti-missile system.
It seems that the policy under President-elect Joe Biden on countries that buy weapons cannot change much because several Democratic leaders support CAATSA.