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Opinion

India may have to make decisions on arms deals, says outgoing US envoy Kenneth Juster

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With the possibility of sanctions hanging over India’s $ 5.4 billion deal with Russia for S-400 air defense systems, outgoing US envoy Kenneth Juster said Tuesday that New Delhi may need to make tough decisions. regarding the acquisition of military hardware.

The United States recently imposed secondary sanctions on Turkey under the Fighting American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) over a $ 2.5 billion deal with Russia for S-400 systems, and experts warned that India could face restrictions. Similar.

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Participating in a question-and-answer session after delivering a farewell speech at an event organized by the Observer Research Foundation, Juster said that sanctions under CAATSA were not directed against friends of the United States. However, he warned that India may soon need to make decisions between “tradeoffs” and acquiring high-tech US military hardware.

“CAATSA sanctions were never designed to harm friends and allies. They were targeting a particular country. And there are many variables involved in that and I think that … I would put that issue aside because I see other issues that potentially affect the future of the defense relationship, “he said.

India has sought to keep its options open on the issue of arms purchases and the country’s leadership has indicated its intention to continue with the acquisition of military hardware from Russia, which represents more than 60% of the weapons systems of the three services. . Russia has also said the S-400 deal is on the way despite the threat of sanctions from the United States and the five systems ordered by India will be delivered within five years.

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However, Juster said that India’s approach has its limitations and “options that may ultimately be necessary.”

“As systems become more technologically advanced, country A that doesn’t get along with country B will be less willing to sell technology that could be compromised with country B,” he said, in an indirect reference to concerns from that the S-400 could collect the electronic signatures of US-owned aircraft operated by India.

“We haven’t gotten to that point yet, but that could go down in the future and that will be a problem that – there are trade-offs. India has to decide how much it matters to get the most sophisticated technology, how much it matters to be as interoperable as possible, within its technology and potentially with other friendly forces, and how much it matters to diversify its sources of acquisitions, ”he added.

Only the Indian government can decide on the offsets, but this issue could be a limitation for advanced technology transfer and the broader defense relationship, he said.

The Indian government’s decisions will set the “ceiling” for defense cooperation. “From the perspective of the United States, we would like to do more and, in a sense, I think it is opening a door,” Juster said.

Hindustan Times

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