Washington: The US is considering doing away with punitive sanctions against doing business with Russia’s defense industry by proposing waivers for countries like India. The proposal was made by a US Congressional committee today.
In a joint conference report to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -2019, the Senate and House Armed Services Committee provided a modified waiver to section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA.
A conference report means the final version of a bill that under negotiation between the House of Representatives and the Senate via a conference committee.
The waiver CAATSA may seem to be general in nature but is intended at preventing US sanctions on India. India is planning to buy five S-400 Triumf air defense systems for around USD 4.5 billion from Russia.
The proposed modified waiver requires presidential certifications with the aim to protect US alliances, military operations, and sensitive technology which is somewhat different to the existing version of the act. said a statement issued by the Senate Armed Services Committee after the two announced details of the conference report.
The proposed John McCain National Defence Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2019 authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and the national security programmes of the Department of Energy, makes it sure that US allies and partners to reduce the inventory of Russian-produced major defense equipment and advanced conventional weapons.
But at the same time, it also excludes the possibility of any type of waivers for Russian intelligence agencies and other companies engaged in cyber attacks.
The step comes just days after US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis asked the Congress to give the Secretary of State the waiver authority.
“Doing so allows nations to build a closer security relationship with the US as they continue to transition from reliance on Russian military equipment,” he said.
“The fundamental question we must ask ourselves is do we wish to strengthen our partners in key regions or leave them with no other option than to turn to Russia, thereby undermining a once-in-a-generation opportunity to more closely align nations with the US vision for global security and stability,” Mr. Mattis said.
The Pentagon in the US, the State Department and also the Indian Embassy here did not comment immediately to request for their comments on the latest CAATSA development.
Before the NDAA 2019 is approved and signed to make it into a law by President Donald Trump, the conference report, which aligns the different House and Senate version of the defense budget, requires to be passed by the two chambers of the US Congress.
The proposed amendments in legislation would avail a valid ground to the Trump administration to provide a necessary waiver to India, even if it goes ahead with its decision to get those S-400.
India’s dependence on its military hardware in Russia has reduced a lot over the last one decade. At a similar pace, India’s defense trade with the US has increased.
Navtej Singh Sarna, the Indian Ambassador to the US, said that he was not the target of the federal law and it should be a collateral damage of it. The administration there needs to find out a way in which they can find a waiver for the partner over this issue, he had said then.
The Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Singh Sarna, said India was not the target of the federal law and it should not become collateral damage of it. The administration has to find a way in which they can find a waiver for the partner on this particular thorny issue, he had then said.
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