When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, one item on their agenda will be closely tracked in Washington: India’s planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 air-defense missile systems.
Washington is targeting Russia’s defense industry and those who do business with the country using a sanctions power mandated by Congress last year. Sanctioning New Delhi for its deal with Moscow, though, would disrupt U.S. efforts to cultivate India as a security partner—a key prong in its Indo-Pacific strategy to counterbalance China’s rise.
At the same time, granting India a sanctions waiver for a more-than $5 billion deal involving one of Russia’s most advanced weapons systems risks undermining Washington’s escalating campaign against Moscow. The Treasury and State Departments last month sanctioned China’s Equipment Development Department for its recent purchases of Sukhoi Su-25 jet fighters and S-400 missiles from Russia. Officials said the move was intended to send a message to other countries considering similar Russian arms deals.