U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged the Congress to provide the necessary waiver so that its sanctions on Russia under CAATSA does not impact countries for which it is not intended for.
Provisions of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) threaten India and several other close friends and allies of the US with sanctions. CAATSA is a U.S. federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.
India is planning to purchase five S-400 Triumf air defence systems for around $4.5 billion from Russia, which U.S. officials say could be considered as a significant military purchase.
“Will you make a commitment that you’ll help [Defence] Secretary [Jim] Mattis get the waivers that he needs in order to make sure that these sanctions don’t hit folks that were not intended to be harmed by these sanctions?” Pompeo asked Senator Robert Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing on Thursday.
Mr. Pompeo was referring to the letter written by Mr. Mattis to the Congress in which he has sought waiver for certain countries from CAATSA legislation, which was signed into law by the U.S. President Donald Trump in August 2017.
Under this any significant purchase of military equipment from Russia would attract American sanctions.Mr. Mattis recently wrote a letter to the Congress seeking waiver for certain provisions.
“I know it’s not my day to ask questions, but it is my day to ask for things that I think we need,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Mr. Menendez, a strong advocate of CAATSA sanctions, urged Mr. Pompeo to go ahead with the sanctions. He remained non-committal to waiver move.
“I have to see the specifics of what Secretary Mattis wants,” said the Democratic Senator from New Jersey.
“I also have to say, if we’re going to allow countries that are sanctioned, because we believe in the sanctions policy, and they want to get off the hook because there’s some other benefit, well then we begin to erode the sanction policies and we pick and choose. And other countries will seek the same questions. I’m open to listen to it. But it has to follow, in essence, what our policy is trying to achieve,” Mr. Menendez added.