Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hinted during a visit to New Delhi on Saturday that India’s planned purchase of an advanced Russian missile system could trigger U.S. sanctions, but left room for New Delhi to back away from the deal.
“We certainly urge all our allies and partners to move away from Russian equipment … and really avoid any kind of acquisitions that would trigger sanctions on our behalf,” Austin said in response to a question from a reporter about India’s plan to acquire the S-400.
However, he stressed that Russia has not yet delivered the equipment to New Delhi. While Austin did discuss the system with his Indian counterpart, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, the two did not discuss potential sanctions, he said.
“We are aware of the fact that they have expressed interest in acquiring the system,” Austin acknowledged. But “they have not acquired an S-400 system yet, so there would be no reason for sanctions to be on the table.”
The United States has in recent years sought to pull India from Russia’s and China’s orbit with high-profile visits and increasing arms sales and military cooperation. But India’s planned purchase of the S-400 could prove a flashpoint, particularly after Congress imposed sanctions on Turkey for acquiring the same system…
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