Washington: The US is seeking help from India and other counties in identifying and avoiding engagement 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 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.
India is planning to buy five S-400 Triumf air defense systems for around $4.5 billion from Russia, which US officials say could be considered as a significant military purchase.
Provisions of the CAATSA threaten India and several other allies of the US with sanctions.
"We've discussed CAATSA with the Government of India just as we have discussed it with others who might be contemplating defense system purchases 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.
Ms 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 Russia's acts and the US had made that clear to a number of friends and partners, including India.
Ms Kaidanow said the overall goal of the CAATSA legislation was to stand very firm and very united in the face of what the US considers to be Russia's exceptionally destabilizing behavior and to impose some economic, diplomatic and material consequences for Russian aggression against US interests and values and its allies.
Responding to a question, Ms Kaidanow said her entire hope at this moment was to convince 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 hope 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," Ms Kaidanow said.