India, Russia Try to Bypass U.S. Sanctions

Russia and India have completed negotiations on a $6 billion deal for the supply of S-400 air defense missile systems in an effort to resolve U.S. sanctions on Russia but also risking to complicate Delhi’s relations with Washington.

The two sides are now working on ways to bypass U.S. sanctions against countries and companies cooperating with Russia.

The chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, William Thornberry, on Monday flagged concerns about the proposed sale of the missile systems to India saying it would complicate interoperability between Indian and American forces.

His comments come amid Indian and Russian hopes to hammer out the deal in October when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in New Delhi for the annual summit between the two countries.

“There’s a lot of concern in the U.S. administration and the Congress with the S-400 system. And there is concern that any country, and not just India, that is looking at acquiring the system…it will make interoperability harder,” said Thornberry, who was in India on Monday with three members of the committee.

According to the Congressman, Delhi’s decision to purchase the S-400 could jeopardize sales of U.S.-built Predator drones, despite the Trump administration’s recently-announced plans to ease arms sales to foreign countries, including India. The changes are designed to allow U.S. arms suppliers to sell weapons to allies directly, circumventing the State Department, the Pentagon, and Congress.

Officials familiar with the India-Russia negotiations on the S-400 deal said the two countries were looking at ways to bypass American sanctions through an alternative payment route. The S-400 air defense missile system is considered one of the most advanced of its kind in the world, with a range of as far as 400 km and as high as 30 km.

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