US Senators Ted Cruz, Todd Young and Roger Marshall introduced legislation this week that would exempt India and other allies from being hit with sanctions over their business with the Russian military due to the greater risk posed by China, Cruz’s office said on Friday in a press release.
“[Cruz, Young and Marshall] this week introduced the ‘Circumspectly Reducing Unintended Consequences Impairing Alliances and Leadership Act of 2021’ (CRUCIAL Act), which creates a 10-year exemption for member countries of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—Australia, Japan, and India—from U.S. sanctions passed in 2017 that would undermine unity against China,” the press release said.
If passed, the legislation would exempt India from sanctions that would typically be enacted as punishment for its decision to do business with the Russian military.
The Biden administration is currently in the process of deciding whether it will sanction India over its 2018 decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.
Cruz is quoted as saying in the release that now would be the wrong time for the Biden administration to undo progress on the US-India relationship by imposing sanctions meant to deter Russia. Doing so would accomplish nothing except undermining shared security goals of combating China’s aggression and forcing India to become dependent on China, Cruz added.
Sen. Young said: “When then-President Trump signed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) into law in 2017, no one would have predicted today’s successful strategic partnership between the United States and Australia, Japan, and India. If the Biden Administration were to impose sanctions on India as its attempts to deter Chinese aggression, we would undermine the good work that has been done. Now is the time to strengthen the Quad instead of pushing our partners away.”
Sen. Marshall added: “The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is one of the United States’ most important alliances. President Biden should prioritize formalizing the U.S. relationship with the Quad by increasing security cooperation, trade and investment, and vaccine diplomacy throughout the Indo-Pacific.
The CRUCIAL Act provides an incredibly important sanctions exemption for our partners who are standing with the U.S. against China’s economic coercion and military aggression. As China continues to threaten its neighbors and attempt to overturn the rules-based international order our relationships with key Democracies such as India, Japan, and Australia will only become more important – serving as a multiplier in our efforts to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Pressure On Biden Administration Over S-400 Deal
Earlier, US Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner sent a joint message to President Joe Biden urging him against applying the provisions of CAATSA to India for its purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia.
In October 2018, Russia and India signed a contract for the supply of five regimental sets of S-400 air defense systems worth more than $5 billion.
“As such, we strongly encourage you to grant a CAATSA waiver to India for its planned purchase of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system,” Republican Senator Cornyn and Democratic Senator Warner said in a letter sent to Biden.
The senators believe a waiver can be applied in this case because India has reduced the volume of imports of Russian military equipment over the past few years.
The sanctions could strengthen the position of those political forces in India that do not see the United States as a reliable partner, and, as a result, the restrictions could “thwart the Indian government’s efforts and long-term strategy to reduce Russian purchases and reliance on Russian defense hardware,” according to the letter.
Warner and Cornyn point out that they share the president’s concern about the “Indian integration of Russian equipment” and advise the administration to continue to discuss this issue constructively with New Delhi.
The senators suggest that the administration create a bilateral working group “to identify ways to promote the security of U.S. technology, and to chart a path forward to develop strategies to enhance U.S.-India military interoperability.”
These measures, according to Cornyn and Warner, will strengthen India’s position as a major defense partner and can also help Washington to resist China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
In October 2018, India signed a $5.4 billion contract with Russia for deliveries of five squadrons of S-400 missile defense systems. India is expected to receive Russia’s S-400 air defense system by end of this year.
S-400 Triumph missile system is aimed at the highly effective elimination of strategic and tactical airplanes, ballistic missiles, hypersonic targets and other air attack weapons with different capabilities, including electronic.