The US is in discussions with India and other countries to help them identify and avoid engaging with Russia in what it sees as a potentially sanctionable activity, a senior US official has said amid New Delhi's plan to purchase air defence missile systems from Moscow.
US President Donald Trump in August 2017 signed into law the Countering America's Adversaries through Sanction Act or CAATSA that imposes sanctions on a country or utility for any significant purchase of military equipment from Russia.
Provisions of the CAATSA threatens India and several other close friends and allies with sanctions.
"We've discussed CAATSA with the Government of India just as we have discussed it with a number of others who might be potentially contemplating a purchases of large defense systems from the Russians. We want to work with all of our partners to help them identify and avoid engaging in any potentially sanctionable activity," said Tina Kaidanow, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.
Kaidanow recently returned from a visit to India.
"But I can't prejudge and I don't want to prejudge anything regarding the imposition of sanctions under CAATSA because we don't want to get to that place. We really want to be in a place where we find a way forward with all of our allies," she said.
"Our encouragement here is to strengthen the US-India defence trade relationships. That's the focus of all of this," she said.
She said the US was not looking to focus on CAATSA except that it was very concerned about some of the acts from Russia and the US had made that clear to a number of our friends and partners, including India.
Kaidanow said the overall goal of the CAATSA legislation is to stand very firm and very united in the face of what the US considers to be Russians exceptionally destabilising behavior and to impose some economic, diplomatic and material consequences for Russian aggression against US interests and values and its allies.
"We have seen activities by Russia in those places as well that disturb us," she said.
Responding to a question, Kaidanow said her entire hope at this moment is convinced all of the allies and partners of the US about the intent of the CAATSA legislation.
"We have real concerns about Russian activities, the acquisition of these systems in theory is beneficial to the Russian government. That is our set of concerns," she said.
"We've made it clear and therefore our hopes is that other countries will take that into account as they make their decisions. Absolutely we are not going to talk about what's going to happen down the road," Kaidanow said.
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