Why does US want sanctions against India


#dailynews60 Daily News 60 reveals the inside story

The US and India are allies and have several preferential bilateral agreements in place, not only trade related agreements but also defence related agreements. In this background, the motive behind US wanting to impose sanctions on India for purchasing the S-400 air defence system from Russia becomes a big mystery.

Defence analyst Ajay Sareen comes to the point quickly. “You see, the problem with the S-400 system from the US perspective is that it completely exposes and destroys Western military strategy. Hence, they do not want this system to become popular. They want to ensure that no country buys this system so that Western military strategy remains unaffected.”

S-400 system in deployment

“Western military strategy is dependent on air superiority and dominance. In order to ensure that they have air superiority, they have invested heavily in stealth technologies for their aircraft. But, as many defence experts, including American and other Western experts, have openly and repeatedly pointed out, these stealth technologies only work against a narrow range of radio waves used by older radar systems.”

“The S-400 system’s radar though is extremely modern and is not limited to any small frequency band, unlike older radars. This system’s radar continuously tracks the skies using a very wide range of radio frequencies. This means that Western aircraft will have zero stealth against the S-400 system and hence, achieving air superiority against this system would be next to impossible.”

S-400 Triumf Air Defence System

“Even in the Yugoslavia war in 1999, using older radar systems in a modified configuration, the Yugoslavs were able to track and shoot down two F-117 Nighthawk aircraft. These were among the stealthiest aircraft in America’s armoury at that time. The Yugoslavs later confirmed that they had reconfigured their radar systems to operate at long wavelengths, which was very unusual for radar systems of that era. Most old radar systems typically used high energy waves with shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies.”

F-117 Nighthawk

Retired Air Force Officer, N Kaushal explains the Western military strategy, “If you look at the US led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the allies first destroyed and degraded the fighting capability of their opponents on the ground through air bombing. Only then they sent in their ground troops. These ground troops encountered very little resistance because the enemy no longer had sufficient fighting capability. Even in Libya, the Western allies bombed government troops, which enabled the rebels to move forward quickly and depose and kill Gaddafi.”

“Now in Syria, the Russians have deployed the S-400. So the Western countries are aware of the capabilities of this system. So, they cannot intervene in Syria any longer. Thus, the government in Syria, helped by the Russians, has been able to defeat the rebels in most areas and retake territories.”

He further elaborated, “In Kargil, initially we too had tried something similar. Pakistan supported forces had control over the peaks from which they could freely shoot at advancing Indian army troops. So, the idea was to bomb the peaks so that occupying forces could not shoot at Indian troops. Later, we used artillery which was more suitable due to the terrain limitations and other theater factors. Then, the Indian army was able to climb up the mountains without being shot upon and we were able to retake the peaks.”

Battlefield scenes from the Kargil war

Retired scientist and expert, C Narayanan explains the technical aspect, “The S-400 system uses AESA radars (active electronically scanned array), which means that it can emit and detect many beams of radio waves at different frequencies simultaneously. This makes stealth technologies largely obsolete. Also, such radar systems cannot be jammed easily. So, Western countries naturally want to prevent the widespread adoption of S-400 because it would limit their dominance.”

An AESA radar prototype

“Over the last 40 or 50 years, Western countries have invested massively in stealth technologies for aircraft. Today, their entire military strategy is based on that. Russia lags behind in stealth technology but to counter Western countries, it has built excellent detection and targetting capability. Even The Economist had declared the S-400 as the best air defence system.”

“Because Russia lags behind in stealth technology, India had proposed joint development of the fifth generation aircraft. For this project, DRDO was to supply technology related to composite materials, which are stealthier and also have other advantages.”

Ajay Sareen adds, “CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) became a law in the US only in August 2017, even though Russia had attacked Ukraine in 2014 itself. So, the claim that CAATSA is meant to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine is only a cover. The truth is that CAATSA is meant to protect the entire Western military strategy and investment of the last 50 years.”

“Also, you must realize that normally US would impose sanctions against a country that sells prohibited technologies. But, CAATSA does not impose any fresh sanctions against Russia; it only provides for sanctions against countries that buy the S-400. Hence, it is clear that the objective of CAATSA is not to punish Russia for its attack on Ukraine. The objective is only to prevent other countries from acquiring the S-400 and thereby making Western military strategy obsolete. Also, regular arms supplies from Russia to other countries are ongoing without inviting any sanctions. Only countries that buy the S-400 are being threatened with sanctions.”

Arms Race: Russia is a major arms exporter

“US is actually not interested in punishing Russia at all. In fact, in Western countries, there is a lot of criticism of current American tactics because these tactics are driving up oil prices everywhere. High oil prices actually benefit Russia since it is a large oil exporter. In 2014-15, when oil prices had dropped, the Russian currency had collapsed and lost 50% of its value in a single fortnight.”

“Recently, the US had carried out one air bombing raid in Syria after the Syrian government allegedly used a gas attack in a populated area. At that time, US had acknowledged publicly that they had given 48 hours notice to Russians and Syrians before the bombing. Now why would you give advance information to your opponents? They can move their vital assets and protect them if they have advance information.”

“Possibly, the US would have negotiated with Russia and asked them to switch off the S-400 systems deployed over there so that there is a safe window for American aircraft. The Americans would have insisted that they need to show the world that they are responding to reports of the gas attack. So, they would have convinced the Russians to allow a symbolic bombing raid that did not change the equation on the ground in any manner.”

US led airstrike in Syria

“So, the whole objective here is that the S-400 makes Western strategy and investment obsolete. Hence, the US wants to prevent other countries from acquiring this system. This is the inside story behind these proposed sanctions and CAATSA.”

Given the friendly relations between the US and India, proposed US sanctions against India have always been controversial and have generated their fair share of disbelief. The statements by the experts above finally expose the complete game plan behind these sanctions.

It is noteworthy though that the US has never carried out any bombing campaign against India. In fact, in the past, reportedly, US and Indian intelligence agencies and militaries have collaborated on certain missions. In such a situation, sanctions against India would be self-defeating and would only drive a wedge between two friendly countries.

The US has tried to sell F 16 and F 18 aircraft to India

India is already suffering due to higher oil prices. If sanctions were added to this mix, the Indian economy and the public would suffer even more. With Lok Shabha elections in India just around the corner, such sanctions and high oil prices can even have a massive political fallout. In such a case, the political establishment in India would certainly have reason to be bitter about American sanctions. Such sanctions can therefore destablise Indo-US relations and push these relations back by many decades.

It is noteworthy that Times of India had recently carried a detailed article where they had suggested that the US may waive off proposed sanctions against India. It remains to be seen whether the US indeed waives off sanctions or goes ahead with them. Even the nature and likely impact of these sanctions is not known at this stage.

In any case, it is extremely surprising that the US is threatening the only real democracy and its only real ally in this part of the world with sanctions. As this story makes it clear, there is indeed a hidden objective behind these sanctions. Hopefully, the US would come to realize that India needs the S-400 system in order to secure itself against China and Pakistan. The US also needs to realize that the Indian S-400s would anyway not be used against American interests.