Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

U.S. stance on CAATSA unchanged


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CAATSA, COMCASA, LEMOA agreements

Mains level: India-US relations

Recently India had planned for the purchase of Mig-19 fighter aircraft with Russia at an estimated Rs. 18,148 crore. The U.S has reacted to countries, including India, on sanctions for the purchase of Russian arms has not changed.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What is CAATSA law? Discuss how it will impact India’s ties with Russia.


  • CAATSA stands for Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
  • It is a US federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
  • The bill provides sanctions for activities concerning:

(1) cybersecurity, (2) crude oil projects, (3) financial institutions, (4) corruption, (5) human rights abuses, (6) evasion of sanctions, (7) transactions with Russian defence or intelligence sectors, (8) export pipelines, (9) privatization of state-owned assets by government officials, and (10) arms transfers to Syria.

A cause of worry

  • While the US has become its second-largest defence supplier, mainly of aircraft and artillery, India still relies heavily on Russian equipment, such as submarines and missiles that the US has been unwilling to provide.
  • Seventy per cent of Indian military hardware is Russian in origin.
  • India is set to receive the S-400 Triumf air defence system.

Is India the only country facing CAATSA sanctions?

  • Notably, Russia is India’s major defence supplier for over 6 decades now, and Iran is India’s second-largest oil supplier.
  • By coincidence, CAATSA has now been invoked by the US twice already, and both times for countries buying the Triumf system from Russia.
  • In September 2018, the US announced sanctions for the procurement of the S-400 Triumf air defence system and Sukhoi S-35 fighter aircraft.
  • Washington expelled Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme in July this year after the first delivery of S-400s was received.
  • India is neither like China, which has an inimical relationship with the U.S., and hence not bound by its diktats, nor like Turkey which is a NATO ally of the US.

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