The Kremlin said before the two-day visit by Putin and top Russian ministers that the “key feature” would be the signing of a $5bn deal for the S-400 air defence system, despite the risk of US sanctions against countries buying Russian defence equipment.
On the eve of Putin’s arrival later on Thursday, the US poured cold water on India’s efforts to obtain a waiver to avoid sanctions under legislation called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
Upgrades in arms systems “including the S-400 air and missile defense system” would be a particular focus for CAATSA, a US State Department spokesperson was quoted as saying by India’s PTI news agency.
“The S-400 is attracting attention due to the US-Trump overhang. With the US’ domestic legislation discouraging countries like India from engaging in ‘significant’ trade with Russia, there is a high-visibility political sub-text about how this deal will impact the India-US bi-lateral,” said Commodore (retired) Uday Bhaskar, Director at Society for Policy Studies.
“The US response will be evident by November 5, when both the trade with Russia and the hydrocarbon imports from Iran will come to a tipping point. If the US decides to go ahead with its domestic legislation and invoke penalties/sanctions against Delhi, it would test the resilience of the India-US bi-lateral,” he said.
“This would potentially be an anomalous situation, wherein the US would place both India and China in the same ‘sanctions’ basket – unlikely bed-fellows indeed. Beijing will monitor this S-400 issue very closely .