NEW DELHI: In a clear warning to partners and allies, the US has said major defence purchases from Russia would attract sanctions under CAATSA, a move that may have implications for India which continues to be a significant buyer of Russian weapon systems.

Briefing journalists, US assistant secretary for political-military affairs in the State Department, R Clarke Cooper, said, “We would caution other US partners against making major purchases of Russian defence equipment in future that would also put them at risk of sanctions.”

The US imposed sanctions on NATO ally Turkey this week for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile interceptor systems. India expects delivery of S-400 missile interceptors by next summer and there is widespread apprehension about CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) being applied to India and its impact on bilateral ties. India continues to source weapon systems from Russia and does not intend to change it substantively.

Addressing the Indian question, Cooper said, “I would say that one thing too from an Indian perspective in particular, which is why I raised the legacy issue. CAATSA is not designed to take a punitive action in that space. It is to mitigate and prevent significant addition of high-level, high-tech Russian systems.”

He attempted to clarify that sanctions were not targeted at the country, but at Russia. “This step should send a clear message globally: CAATSA is designed to impose costs on Russia in response to its malicious cyber activities, its unacceptable behaviour in Ukraine, and other malign activities worldwide.”

He added that CAATSA sanctions would not “deprive them of spare parts and maintenance to sustain equipment and we understand that that has to occur as a bridge until it can be replaced with non-Russian alternatives. We therefore do not focus our CAATSA enforcement on such sustainment transactions and have repeatedly made that clear”.

Cooper also clarified that there was no necessity that the US should impose sanctions immediately, nor that there is any waiver on CAATSA sanctions. This would be difficult for India going forward.

“CAATSA sanctions are of a global nature. They’re not limited to a particular state or region, and there is no time-line. I know that there had been questions posed to me and to other colleagues as to we thought sanctions weren’t going to be issued to Turkey because nothing had been done in the last few months. And that’s to just remind that there’s no clock on the United States Government applying them, and there’s also no blanket waiver either. I know some states have thought or sought that either Congress or the Executive Branch would apply a waiver on sanctions, and I just would offer that is definitely not the case,” he said.