U.S. reiterates threat of sanctions over Triumf deal


US made this clear that India should not assume that it will get a waiver from U.S. sanctions if it goes ahead with its purchase of the S-400 Triumf missile system from Russia. Further, Indo-U.S. defence relationship might also get affected.


  • India had signed a $5.4 billion deal to purchase five batteries of the Russian S-400 Triumf missile system, following a 2018 summit between Russian President and Indian Prime Minister in New Delhi.
  • The deal has run the risk of attracting sanctions from the U.S. under a 2017 law — the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
  • When payments start being made for the S-400, the U.S. Congress’s annual defence budget authorisation, the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) passed last year (2018), allows the President to grant waivers from CAATSA sanctions under certain conditions.


  • This came in the backdrop of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US Presidential elections.
  • It aims to counter the aggression by Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.
  • Title II of the Act deals with sanctions on Russian interests like its oil and gas industry, defence and security sector and financial institutions.
  • The most stringent of these sanctions are:
  • The export licence restriction by which the US President is authorised to suspend export licences related to munitions, dual-use and nuclear related items.
  • The ban on American investment in equity/debt of the sanctioned person.

Specific Concerns of USA

  • Several former U.S. defence officials have praised the military utility of Russian platforms like Brahmos cruise missiles and the S-400 system enabling India to face off against China. Some U.S. officials have remarked that purchasing the S-400 would prevent a deep and broad defence relationship with the U.S.
  • The U.S. can’t offer comparable anti-access/area denial capabilities.
  • India is currently in discussions to buy various other U.S. defence equipment like the Sea Guardian drones and combat aircraft.

S-400 Triumf Missile System

  • It is also known as the SA-21 Growler by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
  • It is capable of engaging aircraft, UAVs, cruise missiles and has a terminal ballistic missile defense capability.
  • It is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM).
  • It has an operational range of over 400 kms.

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