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Friction escalated between India and the United States over the planned purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems

People familiar with the matter said the United States had informed India that it was unlikely to secure a waiver over its planned acquisition of Russian S-400 air defense systems, raising the risk of sanctions similar to those imposed on Turkey for its purchase of the equipment.

The Trump administration has been asking the Indians to abandon a $ 5.5 billion deal for five missile systems and avert a diplomatic crisis, saying New Delhi does not have a broad exemption from a 2017 U.S. law designed to deter countries from purchasing Russian military equipment.

That stance is unlikely to change with the Biden administration that takes over next week and promises a tougher US approach to Russia, said people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

India says it needs long-range surface-to-air missiles to counter the Chinese threat. India and China have clashed over the disputed border in the Himalayas since April, the most dangerous in decades.

New Delhi also asserted its right to choose its defense supplies, which could constitute an early point of contention with the new US administration.

India and the United States have a comprehensive global strategic partnership. About the proposed S-400 purchase, Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said India has a special and distinct strategic partnership with Russia.

India has long pursued an independent foreign policy. This also applies to our defense purchases and supplies, which are guided by our national security interests. ”

The United States imposed sanctions on Turkey last month over its acquisition of Russian air defense systems under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Delhi said the US was aware of reports regarding India’s planned purchase of the S-400 systems, but indicated that there had been no shipments yet.

We urge all of our allies and partners to abandon transactions with Russia that may lead to sanctions under the Central American Anti-Terrorism Act. CAATSA does not contain any blanket or country-specific waiver clause.

The spokesman said, “We have not taken any concession decisions regarding Indian dealings with Russia.”

There was no immediate comment from Russian officials. Moscow has previously said that the sanctions imposed on Turkey are illegal and has shown arrogance towards international law.

India made an initial payment of $ 800 million in 2019 toward the Russian deal, and the first batch of missile batteries are expected to be paid at the end of this year.

Russia has traditionally been a major supplier of weapons to India, but in recent decades the Indian government has turned to the United States and Israel for new aircraft and drones.

US officials believe that there is still time for Delhi to reconsider, and that punitive measures will not begin until the deal with the Russians is “completed”.

Washington told New Delhi that if India acquires the S-400, it will affect how its systems interact with the US military equipment India now has and threaten future arms transfers such as advanced combat aircraft and armed drones, according to people familiar with the matter. With this issue.

There is little chance that India will avoid sanctions, assuming the S-400 purchase is complete. “At the moment, it is a good bet that sanctions will be implemented against India,” said Richard Russo, a specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

But he said the outcome could depend on how defense cooperation between India and the United States progressed, adding that India was working with Washington on security in Asia more than ever, and this could be a mitigating factor.

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