No Such Terms as “CAATSA Waiver For India” Under CAATSA Law

India currently placed almost $15 billion work order to various American defense contractors through Foreign Military Sale which include C130J transport aircraft, P-8I Poseidon, AH-64E Apache and MH-60R helicopters. The US has offered India with F-15EX, F-21 and Super Hornet aircraft for Indian MMRCA V2.0 competition.

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Some Indian commentators and media believe that the United States approval of the sale of National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) to India when it has already paid up to buy the Russian S-400 system is the indication that Indian diplomacy has won the day in keeping the threat of US sanction Countering American Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) at bay for its arms deals with Russia.

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As the United States and India continue to strengthen their defence trade partnership, the spectre of penalties related to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) remains a risk that India is not safeguarded against, it has been confirmed to Jane’s .

Despite some media reports in India suggesting that the Asian country has been awarded ‘waiver’ status under CAATSA – effectively shielding it from US sanctions linked to purchases of Russian military equipment – a US Department of State official told Jane’s such country-specific dispensations are not made available under the Act.

“While we cannot prejudge whether a specific transaction would result in sanctions, it is important to note that CAATSA does not have any blanket or country-specific waiver provision,” said the official. “There are strict criteria for considering a waiver, and each transaction is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The Secretary of State has not made any determination regarding the significance of any transaction involving India.”

CAATSA was enacted in 2017 in response to Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election and the annexation of Crimea. Since its introduction the US government has imposed penalties on China and Turkey over their respective procurements of Russian Almaz-Antei S-400 air defence systems. In October 2019 India ordered five S-400 systems for USD5.5 billion.

In the spirit of CAATSA, the US Department of State official urged US allies to cease such military procurements from Russia. However, the official did not confirm whether CAATSA-related penalties were the subject of discussions between the two governments during high-level diplomatic meetings in New Delhi in late February.

“Without commentating on private diplomatic conversations, I can confirm that we urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under CAATSA,” said the US Department of State official.

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