Waiver of the US S-400 missile system law: what awaits India


In great relief for India, the United States decided not to impose sanctions under its strict Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for the purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia. .

After New Delhi’s purchase of the S-400 air defense system, there was a threat of US sanctions, but the Indian government had always been convinced to circumvent them. This was made possible as the US House of Representatives passed a legislative amendment waiving any punitive sanction against India under CAATSA.

The law was introduced in 2017 and provides for punitive actions by the US government against any country entering into defense and intelligence agreements with Russia, Iran and North Korea.

What is the legislative amendment that erases India from CAATSA

The legislative amendment was passed on Thursday during the indoor review of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It is significant that during the talks there was a reference to US support for India amid growing belligerence from China.

“The United States must stand with India in the face of China’s escalating aggression. As Vice Chairman of the India Caucus, I have worked to strengthen the partnership between our countries and make so that India can defend itself along the Indo-Chinese border”. said Ro Khanna, the US representative from California’s 17th congressional district who drafted and introduced the amendment.

“This amendment is of the utmost importance, and I am proud to see it passed in the House on a bipartisan basis,” he said.

Why India Needs S-400 and Delivery Status

India had signed the $5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400, ignoring a warning about possible sanctions from the then Trump administration that continuing the contract could result in US sanctions.

Thus, India can effectively freely use the S-400 missile systems, deliveries of which have already begun and the first unit has been handed over to the Indian Air Force and deployed along the Western Front in the sector of Punjab. Four additional units are to be delivered, with one unit expected every six months.

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The S-400 is a long-range mobile surface-to-air missile system that is considered one of the world’s deadliest. It can shoot down multiple targets up to a range of 400 km. Whether fighter jets, bombers, cruise and ballistic missiles or drones. With four different missile types, it has capabilities beyond visual range. It can engage multiple targets, which includes tracking 160 objects within a range of 600 km and hitting 72 targets up to 400 km away.

The four different missiles have varying capabilities: short range 40 km, medium range 120 km, long range 180 km and very long range 400 km.

Russia has made it clear that the war in Ukraine and the sanctions against Moscow will not affect deliveries to India.

CAATSA imposed on Turkey

China and Turkey are also among the countries to which China has supplied this powerful weapon system. Turkey has faced US sanctions under the law for buying S-400 from Russia.

On December 14, 2020, then-Secretary of State Micheal R Pompeo said in a statement: “The United States is imposing sanctions on the Turkish Defense Industries Chairmanship (SSB) under the Section 231 of CAATSA for knowingly participating in a significant transaction with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms export entity, by purchasing the S-400 surface-to-air missile system. The sanctions include a ban on all U.S. export licenses and clearances to SSB and an asset freeze and visa restrictions for SSB Chairman Dr. Ismail Demir and other SSB officers.

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“The United States has made it clear to Turkey at the highest level and on numerous occasions that its purchase of the S-400 system would endanger the security of U.S. military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to the military sector. Russian defense, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and the defense industry,” the statement added.

Following US sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of S-400 missile systems, there were fears that Washington would impose similar punitive measures on India.

Future agreements with Russia

Although the S-400 deal does not lead to sanctions, there is a long list of pending military agreements with Russia.

India and Russia signed a military technology cooperation agreement 2021-2031 during the first 2+2 dialogue in December 2021 aimed at strengthening defense ties over the next decade. Orders for military platforms worth more than $9 billion are on the line for India.

Here are some of the big ticket purchases expected from Russia.

AK 203 assault rifle

The Indian Army’s assault rifle requirements were to be met by the production of 6.71 lakh AK 203 rifles to be manufactured at Korwa, Amethi in Uttar Pradesh under a joint venture with Russia, but the Make in India project has experienced delays. The wait is over because all obstacles have been overcome.

The contract worth Rs 5,000 crores for the procurement of 6,01,427 AK-203 assault rifles through Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited will be manufactured in India. In addition, 70,000 rifles will be purchased off the shelf in Russia.

Nuclear-powered submarine

In 2019, India signed a $3 billion deal with Russia to lease a nuclear-powered submarine. The Akula-class Chakra III submarine is expected to be delivered by 2025 for a 10-year term. It will be the third nuclear submarine that India will lease to Russia, the other two being in 1988 for a period of three years, then in 2012 for 10 years. The lease for this will end this year.

Four Grigorovich-class frigates

The deal between Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport and Goa Shipyard Ltd was signed in 2018. According to the terms and conditions, two frigates for the Indian Navy worth $1 billion are to be manufactured in Russia and the two more in Goa were signed in 2018.

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The delivery of the two frigates was to begin within four years of the signing of the contract, i.e. at the end of 2022.


In July 2020, at the height of the military struggle with China in Ladakh, India approved the purchase of 12 Su-30 MKIs and 21 MiG 29 fighter jets and an upgrade of the existing fleet of 59 Russian MiG 29 worth Rs. 18,148 crores.

While negotiations were supposed to be underway, the United States claimed that India had canceled orders for the MiG 29 from Russia. However, there was no response from the Indian to the US claims.

In July 2021, Valeria Reshetnikova, spokesperson for the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said that Russia had sent a commercial offer and a tender for the aircraft.

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