India is slated to strike a deal for 4 batteries of S-400 advanced air defence systems from Russia

Mega deals at stake, had threatened punitive action over military ties with Russia

India’s multi-billion dollar military equipment market coupled with its dexterous handling of simultaneous relations with the US and Russia has helped it secure a waiver against sanctions that Washington had threatened to impose. 

A committee of the US Congress last night (early this morning in India) okayed a country-specific waiver for India to escape punitive sanctions over its military deals with Russia. A US legislation, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), says sanctions must be imposed against those dealing with Russia.

A waiver has been granted to India, Indonesia and Vietnam — the trio using Russian military equipment and all vital for the US’ Indo-Pacific outreach. The imposition of sanctions on India would have impacted military ties and pushed New Delhi back to its Cold War-era friend — Russia. 

Matters were clear that India was not going to back down under US threat as Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on July 13: “We told the US Congress delegation (that visited India) this is a US law, and not one of the UN.” Aware the US could ill-afford to lose the multi-billion deals, Sitharaman said the S-400 missile deal with Russia would go on as per plan. 

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.

Defence deals with cold war-era rivals

United States 

American firms vying for deals to supply 110 jets for Indian Air Force and 57 jets and 120 helicopters for the Navy Rs 2,75,320 or $40 billion approximate 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)

In the past 10 years, India bought from the US C-17 planes, the C-130 transporter and the P8I maritime surveillance system


Sukhoi Su-30MKI jets for IAF, Army’s T-90 tanks, BrahMos missiles; ammo mostly imported or licence-produced 62% of New Delhi’s military requirements are fulfilled by Moscow

Supplies of spares for Mi-17 helicopters and MiG-29 fighter jets used by IAF and Navy; IAF’s transport fleet, 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.