India hopes to avoid US sanctions over Russian missile deal

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NEW DELHI: India is hopeful it should keep away from US sanctions over its buy of Russia's S-400 missile system, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed AFP.

New Delhi has been "heard and understood" by the US administration over its accord to purchase the S-400 missile defence system for $5.2 billion, the minister stated in an interview this week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the cope with Russian President Vladimir Putin in October, defying US warnings of sanctions on nations shopping for Russian army gear. The sanctions have been a part of measures to punish Moscow for its actions in Ukraine in 2014.

President Donald Trump's administration imposed sanctions on China's army final yr over Beijing's buy of the S-400 and different army hardware.

It has additionally warned NATO member Turkey of sanctions for purchasing the S-400, and has suspended Turkey's participation in a US jet programme.

Sitharaman advised AFP that Washington has taken on board that India, bordering each Pakistan and China, wanted arms from Russia, and others, to stay a "robust companion".

Negotiations with Moscow, a longstanding provider to India's army, on the S-400 started earlier than the US sanctions have been launched, she stated.

"Within the case of S-400 we have now defined ourselves nicely... That has been heard and understood," Sitharaman stated. "They've appreciated the viewpoint put ahead."

Requested if she was assured that India would keep away from sanctions, Sitharaman stated: "Sure I hope so."

Earlier than the deal was inked, Washington poured chilly water on India's efforts to acquire a waiver from the US Countering America's Adversaries Via Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Upgrades in arms methods "together with the S-400 air and missile defense system" can be a specific focus for CAATSA, a US State Division spokesperson was quoted as saying by India's PTI information company.

However Randall Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Protection for Indo-Pacific Safety Affairs, advised a listening to in March that Washington needed to "work by way of" the issue, calling India "an essential rising strategic companion."

He added nevertheless that India's contract with Russia has not been accomplished and that the US was "very eager to see (India) make another choice (to the S-400) and we're working with them to offer potential options."

Washington is in a difficult place with India. It needs to bolster ties with the Asian big to counter China's assertiveness, a development which has additionally rattled New Delhi.

In 2017 India and China had a army standoff over a Himalayan plateau claimed by each Beijing and Bhutan, an in depth ally of India.

Since then China and India have sought to patch up relations, together with at a gathering between Modi and President Xi Jinping at Wuhan, China in April 2018.

"Typically there are variations and you've got a face-off," Sitharaman stated. "However our try, notably after the prime minister's Wuhan meet with the Chinese language president, our try has been that these variations... can't be allowed to turn out to be disputes."

However China has additionally made inroads in Sri Lanka and the Maldives — nations that India considers to be in its sphere of affect — by means of its One Belt, One Street Initiative (OBOR), also called the Belt and Street Initiative (BRI).

India has specific considerations a few collection of tasks passing via Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a disputed territory which was the fuse for a brand new army flare-up between Pakistan and India in February.


China has additionally blocked efforts to placed on a UN sanctions blacklist the chief of a Pakistan-based militant group that claimed a suicide bombing in India-administered Kashmir on February 14 that killed 40 Indian paramilitary troops.
New Delhi has reportedly declined a Chinese language invitation to participate in an OBOR discussion board in China later this month.
"Areas that are ours legally, that are beneath unlawful occupation of Pakistan, are those which have gotten a part of the China-Pakistan Financial Hall," Sitharaman stated.
"So having made that place very clear, we have now not participated in something to do with OBOR, and we persist with that place," she stated.

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