On trip to Washington, NSA Ajit Doval to address US sanction on Russian arms

New Delhi: Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s India visit next month, National security advisor Ajit Doval is expected to visit Washington as early as this week.

During his visit, Doval will address US concerns over India’s purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia. India’s is reaching out to US to convince the Trump administration that the arms deal merits a waiver from the provisions of Countering America’s Adversaries Through the Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Modi- Putin summit

  • President Putin will be hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 4 and 5 in New Delhi for the annual bilateral summit. PM Modi has a great personal rapport with President Putin and both India and Russia, old allies, are not keen on shelving the purchase.
  • Officials in New Delhi and Washington confirmed that Doval would be meeting his counterpart John Bolton, who, along with the US State Department, has still not decided on India getting a waiver in the Russian missile deal.

Much needed waiver

  • However, there is another view in both the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom that a major defence partner of the US like India should not be penalised, especially because New Delhi has a history of hardware acquisition from Russia over the past 70 years.
  • The CATSA was not discussed in the September 6 two-plus-two talks in Delhi. More than 60% of Indian military inventory is from Russia. Since the break-up of the erstwhile Soviet Union, Russia has been selling arms including the S-400 missile system to China.
  • Although the Indian forces are all for the S-400 surface to missile system, a waiver from US President Trump is essential or else US defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and Sirkorsky, who are supplying critical equipment to India like the C-17, C-130 J transport aircraft, Apache and Chinook helicopters, will come under sanctions.

Besides CAATSA’s impact on the S-400 deal, Doval will discuss the situation in the Af-Pak region with the Americans showing signs of negotiating with the Taliban as long as US bases are not targeted by the Islamic fundamentalists backed by Pakistan’s deep state.