WASHINGTON — India risked U.S. sanctions when it agreed to a $5 billion deal to buy Russian missile systems. But two months after India signed the pact, it’s not clear whether the Trump administration will issue a waiver or follow through with any penalties.
“We’ll sort out all those issues here today, and in the days ahead… we’ll work all this forward,” Mattis told reporters on Monday when asked if he expects New Delhi to get a sanctions waiver over the S-400 purchase.
In her remarks, Sitharaman gave no explicit indication that the threat of US sanctions for S-400 purchases was an issue she wanted to raise. “I look forward to spending some time on specifics of the issues that we have been engaged in, building on the discussions and outcomes of the 2+2 meetings,” she said.
“India has been spent many, many years in its nonaligned status, and it’s drawn a lot of weapons from Russia,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon ahead of Sitharaman’s arrival Monday. She is slated to leave Washington on Tuesday.
“We are here today to talk about all the issues that bring us closer together and we’ll sort out all those issues here today and in the days ahead,” he added, when asked about India’s S-400 purchase.
Russia’s S-400 system, a mobile long-range surface-to-air missile system, made its debut on the world stage in 2007. The platform rivals Lockheed Martin’s THAAD, or terminal high altitude area defense, system and Raytheon’s Patriot system.
Compared with U.S. systems, the Russian-made S-400 is capable of engaging a wider array of targets, at longer ranges and against multiple threats simultaneously.
In a press statement on Sitharaman’s meeting with Mattis, the Indian ministry of defence said that discussions were held on the growing partnership between India and the US in the defence sphere.
“Views were also exchanged on a broad range of bilateral and international issues of mutual interest. The Ministers reviewed ongoing initiatives to further strengthen bilateral defense cooperation, as a key pillar of the strategic partnership between India and USA,” it said.