-THE COUNTRY NOT TO INVITE US SANCTIONS DESPITE MEGA DEALS WITH RUSSIA
-SENSEX HITS ALL-TIME HIGH
Today two mega news must have gladdened every Indian heart. On the one hand it is official USA would not impose any sanctions on India under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) despite India all set to sign $5.5 billion Mega deal for S-400 air defence systems with Russia. On the other hand SENSEX touched highest water mark in history.
Indian Foreign ministry and Defence Ministry has in the recent past held many parleys with its American counterpart to get a waiver. Eventually the shrewd handling of the discussions by mandarins sitting the South Block has delivered the results. Also unmistakably visible is the economic muscle that India wields in international arena now, reaffirmed today when BSE Sensex hit a new all-time high of 36,947.18 and NSE Nifty moved to 11,157.15 (all-time high is 11,171.55) in the afternoon. Eventually SENSEX closed at new closing all-time high of 36,858 though the broader Nifty 50 fell below 11,150.
Meanwhile last night, a committee of the US Congress (early this morning in India) concurred with a country-specific waiver for India to escape punitive sanctions over its military deals with Russia. A waiver has been granted to India, Indonesia and Vietnam — three countries that use Russian military equipment and all three are vital lynchpins for the US policy for Pacific Ocean to contain China. The imposition of sanctions on India would have pushed India back in the arms of Russia completely.
There was intense pressure from Washington on New Delhi to back down from S-400 missile defence deal but India made it clear that it was not going to cave under US Pressure as most of India’s equipment being of Russian origin, it was vital to this country’s scheme of things. Moreover even during Cold War era India had refused to join any block explicitly and long adopted the policy that relation with any particular country cannot be held hostage to relationship with any other. As regards sanctions, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said on July 13: “We told the US Congress delegation (that visited India) this is a US law(CAATSA), and not one of the UN.” It was a veiled threat and US could ill-afford to loose the multi-billion dollar deals which it hopes to sign progressively with New Delhi.
In fact, US Secretary of State Jim Mattis had long been in favour of granting India a waiver. But the US Congress keeps the waiver powers to itself even as the administration has been seeking that these be with the government. “Providing the Secretary of State with a CAATSA waiver authority is imperative,” US Secretary of State Jim Mattis had said four days ago.
Whatever the technicalities, eventually there is relief on both sides as USA has come to understand India’s line of reasoning.
As far as defence deals at stake are concerned, American Boeing and Lockheed Martin are competing for deals to supply 110 jets for Indian Air Force and 57 jets and 120 helicopters for the Navy – Rs 2,75,320 crore or $40 billion approximate being the collective cost of the above deals
India has already ordered 22 Apache attack helicopters, 15 heavy-lift Boeing Chinook copters (deliveries about to commence), 145 pieces of M777 ultra-light howitzers (deliveries have started arriving). India also wants armed drones, radars and a missile defence system for the capital region of Delhi.
In the past 10 years, India has imported from the US C-17 planes, the C-130 transporter and the P8I maritime surveillance system
Major purchases from Russia include Sukhoi-30 MKI jets for IAF, Army’s T-90 tanks, BrahMos missiles. Besides most of the ammunition is imported or licence-produced from Russia. Moscow fulfilled 62% of New Delhi’s military requirements.
Moreover India relies on Russia for supply of spares for Mi-17 helicopters and MiG-29 fighter jets used by IAF and Navy; IAF’s transport fleet of Illyushin aircrafts, armoured vehicles, Kamov copters (being jointly produced in India); nuclear-sub INS Chakra (leased from Russia) — another sub being negotiated; INS Arihant (indigenous nuclear-sub built with Moscow help); S-400 missiles.