Don Heflin, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, today said India may not be spared from sanctions Washington slaps against countries for buying Russian military equipment, which, in this case, is the S-400 missile system.
“We’re aware of reports regarding India’s plans of purchasing missiles, including the S-400 systems. Some people ask if there’s a blanker waiver for countries, which is not the case. It is on a case-by-case basis. We’ve not made any waiver determination in respect to Indian transactions with Russia,” he said during the U.S. Embassy’s conference on Aero India.
Heflin is leading a high-level delegation of U.S. government officials and defense industry representatives at Aero India 2021 scheduled to take place from February 3-5.
This is the first official mention of sanctions after Biden took office on January 20.
India ordered S-400 air defense systems for $5.43 billion (INR 40,000 crore) in October 2018. A group of 100 Indian Army personnel were reportedly sent to Russia in the last week of January to begin training on how to operate them.
The U.S. imposes sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against countries buying military equipment from Russia. Turkey, a NATO ally, was also not spared from CAATSA; although Greece, Slovakia and Bulgaria that own S-300s were let go off. Ankara was kicked out of F-35 Lightning II project and was denied the jets, 100 of which it had planned to acquire. If the U.S. decides to not do the same with India, it will be a bitter pill for Turkey to swallow.
Soon after the U.S. imposed sanctions against Turkey, Christopher Ford, Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, said in a statement, “We hope that other countries around the world will also take note that the United States will fully implement CAATSA Section 231 sanctions and that they should avoid further acquisitions of Russian equipment, especially those that could trigger sections (231 of CAATSA)."