US Imposes CAATSA Sanctions On Turkey: India Apprehensive

  • 17 Dec 2020

  • On 14th December 2020, the United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey over its acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems.
  • With India set to get the consignment of the S-400 air defence system early next year, New Delhi is watching Washington’s moves closely.
  • While it has got a waiver from the outgoing Trump administration, Delhi hopes that the incoming Biden administration would not work towards reversing the decision.

S-400 Air Defence Missile System

  • The S-400 Triumf, (NATO calls it SA-21 Growler), is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.
  • It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).


  • Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), enacted on August 2, 2017, to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.
  • Title II of the Act primarily deals with sanctions on Russian interests such as its oil and gas industry, defence and security sector, and financial institutions.
  • Section 231 of the Act empowers the US President to impose at least five of the 12 listed sanctions — enumerated in Section 235 of the Act — on persons engaged in a “significant transaction” with Russian defence and intelligence sectors.

Why it is a concern for India?

  • Most of India’s weapons are of Soviet/Russian origin – nuclear submarine INS Chakra, the Kilo-class conventional submarine, the supersonic Brahmos cruise missile, the MiG 21/27/29 and Su-30 MKI fighters, IL-76/78 transport planes, T-72 and T-90 tanks, Mi-series of helicopters, and Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, etc.
  • So, if India is sanctioned under such law, it may hinder sourcing spares, maintenance of all such defence machinery/equipment.

Why US Exempted/may exempt India Further

  • US’s Indo-Pacific Strategy: The US is projecting India as a key partner in its Indo-Pacific strategy, with the US National Security Strategy 2017 explicitly supporting New Delhi’s vital role in this regard.
  • Arms Trade: The US sees this as a strategic opportunity to trade in arms with India. In addition, US defence contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing, are also strong contenders for a number of high-profile arms deals, including the recently floated tender notices for 110 fighter planes for the Indian Air Force, 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters for the Indian Navy, and 234 naval utility and multi-role helicopters.
  • Quad: The concept of four nation alliance - USA, Australia, Japan and India - to contain China’sunilateral claim on the Nine-Dash Line in the South China Sea; rapid warship building its first overseas base in Djibouti; and its surface and subsurface activities in Indian Ocean beyond the Malacca Straits.

India’s Recent Arms Deals with US

  • In recent years, the US has bagged more than $15 billion in arms deals including for the C-17 Globemaster and C-130J transport planes, P-8 (I) maritime reconnaissance aircraft, M777 light-weight howitzer, Harpoon missiles, and Apache and Chinook helicopters.
  • The US is also likely to accept an Indian request for Sea Guardian drones.