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India’s proposed purchase of S-400 air defence systems from Russia has become a thorny issue in New Delhi’s bilateral ties with Washington, with successive American administrations threatening to impose economic sanctions on India if it goes ahead with the deal. Despite consistent American pressure, New Delhi has so far stuck to the deal.
Subramanian Swamy, a senior lawmaker from India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Thursday cautioned that the US would “expel” New Delhi from the “Quad” alliance, which includes the US, India, Japan, and Australia, if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government goes ahead with the proposed purchase of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.
I notice none of my facts on Twitter have been proved wrong: 1. China has crossed LAC and occupied our territory. 2. Govt says disengagement has led to PLA withdrawal from Indian side of LAC is false 3. India buying S400 from Russia will lead to US expelling India from QUAD.
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) March 25, 2021
The warning by the veteran Indian MP comes days after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin hinted that India could face sanctions over its proposed purchase of the state-of-the-art Russian air defence systems.
“… we have countries that we work with from time to time that have Soviet or excuse me Russian equipment that they acquired over the years and we certainly urge all our allies and partners to move away from Soviet or excuse me Russian equipment. In some cases it was Soviet equipment because they bought it so long ago”, Austin said during a press conference in New Delhi last week.
He was asked if the Biden administration could invoke sanctions against India under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a 2017 piece of US legislation targeting government and private entities specifically engaged in defence deals with Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
“But to move away from that and really avoid any kind of acquisitions that would trigger sanctions on our behalf”, stated Austin, adding that he did discuss the prospect of American sanctions against New Delhi during a meeting with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh.
In spite of the spectre of CAATSA sanctions, New Delhi has so far publicly resisted American pressure over the $5.43 billion defence deal.
The state-of-the-art S-400 “Triumf” air defence missile systems, touted as the most advanced of its kind in the world, are an export-quality defence product and are said to possess the capability of shooting down incoming enemy aircraft, missiles, and drones within an approximate range of 400 kilometres.
New Delhi is set to receive its first batch of the five ordered S-400 systems from Russia towards the end of 2021.
Besides Russia, only China and Turkey possess the S-400 missile systems to date.