U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has recently expressed optimism that New Delhi and Washington will be able to resolve their differences pertaining to a $5.5 billion Indian-Russian defense deal for the procurement of five regiments of Russian-made Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf air defense systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) that could trigger U.S. sanctions against India.
“We will work everything out. Trust me,” Mattis told reporters on December 3 during a press briefing in the run-up of an official visit by his Indian counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman, to the Pentagon in Washington DC. “We’ll work all this forward,” Mattis added. “This is the normal collaboration and consultation that we have with each other.” The U.S. defense secretary has repeatedly spoken out against the imposition of sanctions on India under U.S. legislation known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) over the past months.
“CAATSA, which came into effect in January 2018, is aimed at punishing Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential elections and mandates the imposition of economic sanctions on countries importing Russian military hardware,” I explained previously. “However, the Trump administration has been given authority under this year’s U.S. National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to waive sanctions in certain circumstances pertaining to Russian legacy systems that costs less than $15 million.”