THE CAATSA TEST AND COURSE OF INDO-US RELATIONSHIP [GS II, International Relation]

CONTEXT: The Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, recently said that the delivery of the S-400 Triumf air defence systems from Russia is expected according to schedule. USA reacted that under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), enacted by the U.S. Congress→ India’s receiving the missile systems could attract sanctions.

 A/c Sherman, U.S. thinks it’s “dangerous” for “any country that decides to use the S-400”

India is scheduled to receive five squadrons of the surface-to-air missile systems under the $5.43 billion (₹40,000 crore) agreement it signed three years ago.

Enactment of CAATSA

Even though CAATSA was signed into law by then President Donald Trump in 2017.

The CAATSA was passed when the U.S. sought to discourage trade in the defence and intelligence sectors of Russia, as Russia was considered to have interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

India has stressed on the tactical importance of the defence missile systems considering the environment in the Indian subcontinent.

 CAATSA : The Act mandates the President to impose at least 5/12 sanctions on persons engaged in a “significant transaction” with Russian defence and intelligence sectors. 

These sanctions include:-

  •  Suspending export licence

  •  Banning American equity/debt investments in entities

  •  Prohibiting loans from U.S. financial institutions 

  •  Opposing loans from international finance institutions

The Act also built in a safety valve in the form of a presidential waiver i.e. “modified waiver authority”.This waiver depends on following considerations:-

  •  Whether the move is in American interest

  • That it does not endanger the country’s national security

  • Whether it affect its military operations in an adverse manner

  • whether the country in question is taking steps to bring down its inventory of defence equipment from Russia

  • Whether the country in question cooperate with Washington on matters of critical security 

Whether India can secure a waiver from President Joe Biden when the time comes for the White House to make a decision has to be awaited.

AN ADDITIONAL PROVISION– allowing for sanctions waivers for 180 days, provided the administration certifies that the country in question is scaling back its ties with Russia.

The debate in the U.S. hovers around the efficacy of CAATSA-related sanctions against India when the geopolitical situation in the region is undergoing a change. 

CHANGING GLOBAL ALLIANCES- Today, there is a growing relationship between China and Russia with both countries seeking to expand engagement in Afghanistan from where the U.S. withdrew its military after two decades of war.

INDIA’S STANCE W.R.T USA EXIT FROM AFGHANISTAN AND THE DIPLOMACY-

India turned a bit hostile over the U.S. negotiation of the exit deal with the Taliban. Yet, on the strategic plane, India remained on course by agreeing to the upgrading of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and sharing the same vision as the U.S. on the Indo-Pacific construct.

EFFECTS OF SANCTION- If sanctions are made, they have the tremendous potential of downgrading the bilateral relationship trajectory between the U.S. and India, which now covers 50 sectors, especially in the field of defence. And as per U.S.’s concern, it may drift India towards Russia again along with the belief that Washington cannot be relied upon as a partner.

INDIA-RUSSIA TRADING SITUATION-

According to a report by a defence think-tank SIPRI-

  • India’s military purchase from Russia has steadily declined over the last decade 

  • Between 2011-15 and 2016-20, India’s arms import decreased by 33% 

In recent years, though, there have been some big-ticket deals worth $15 billion including S400, Ka-226-T utility helicopters, BrahMos missiles and production of AK-203 assault rifles.

INDIA-USA TRADING SITUATION-

  • Government-to-Government deals with the U.S. ,over the past decade, have reached to $20 billion

  • Additionally, They have negotiated with approx $10 billion deals

US GIFTS TO INDIA

  • The U.S. designated India as a Major Defence Partner in 2016

  • USA further gave India Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 which allows access to critical technologies. 

Today, manufacturers in both countries are exploring ways to co-develop and co-produce military equipment.

WILL THE SANCTIONS BE IMPOSED ON INDIA LIKE CHINA AND TURKEY? 

There are three clear steps/options in the current scenario:-.

  1. The presidential determination on waiver

  2. The referral to the Congressional Committees

  3. clearance by these panels

While referral to the Armed Services is spelled out, it is a distinct possibility that this will be sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committees.

TO CONCLUDE- This CAATSA test is going to determine the future course of the India-U.S. relationship. The role of Indian-Americans and the Indian-diaspora should be significant just as they showed support for the historic Civil Nuclear Deal in the face of resistance from Democrats opposing this nuclear proliferation deal. This development will go a long way in moulding the INDO-US INDO-RUSSIA relationship and also has the power to impact the current global balance with respect to India in particular. 

plutus ias daily current affairs 13 Oct 2021