On September 20, the US announced the first sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), which authorises the US Executive to impose sanctions on any entity involved in a “significant” defence transaction with Russia. The sanctions – on a Chinese entity and its management – were in response to the Chinese import of S-400 air defence systems and Su-35 fighter aircraft. The timing of the announcement and its stated justification merit attention. The Chinese imports of these platforms were well over eight months ago. In the meanwhile, there has never been any talk of applying CAATSA to China, mainly because, as US officials have admitted publicly, US commercial interests are the principal trigger for invoking CAATSA. There is no question of US wanting to sell weapons to China. It may, therefore, be reasonably concluded that President Putin’s visit to India, two weeks later, influenced the timing of the US announcement. In a background briefing, a US State Department senior official indicated that other countries importing the S-400 could also attract CAATSA. The implications of CAATSA for India-Russia and India-US defence cooperation has been discussed in recent high-level India-US consultations. This does not seem to have diluted the hawkish US public stance, designed to warn India that every defence deal it contemplates with Russia will remain under the US scanner. The Putin visit may provide some clues on how the two countries propose to tackle this major challenge.


 September 30, 2018

About the Author

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.