On trip to Washington, NSA?Ajit Doval to address concerns over Russian armsSep 13,2018 SOURCE: Hindustan Times
National security advisor Ajit Doval is expected to visit Washington as early as this week, ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s India visit next month. He will address US concerns over India’s purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia, and to convince the Trump administration that the deal merits a waiver from the provisions of Countering America’s Adversaries Through the Sanctions Act (CAATSA). President Putin will be hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 4 and 5 in New Delhi for the annual bilateral summit. PM Modi has a great personal rapport with President Putin and both India and Russia, old allies, are not keen on shelving the purchase. Officials in New Delhi and Washington confirmed that Doval would be meeting his counterpart John Bolton, who, along with the US State Department, has still not decided on India getting a waiver in the Russian missile deal. However, there is another view in both the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom that a major defence partner of the US like India should not be penalised, especially because New Delhi has a history of hardware acquisition from Russia over the past 70 years. The CATSA was not discussed in the September 6 two-plus-two talks in Delhi. More than 60% of Indian military inventory is from Russia. Since the break-up of the erstwhile Soviet Union, Russia has been selling arms including the S-400 missile system to China. Although the Indian forces are all for the S-400 surface to missile system, a waiver from US President Trump is essential or else US defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and Sirkorsky, who are supplying critical equipment to India like the C-17, C-130 J transport aircraft, Apache and Chinook helicopters, will come under sanctions. Besides CAATSA’s impact on the S-400 deal, Doval will discuss the situation in the Af-Pak region with the Americans showing signs of negotiating with the Taliban as long as US bases are not targeted by the Islamic fundamentalists backed by Pakistan’s deep state. With the Taliban making advances in Afghanistan, India’s assessment is that US will keep out of military operations, leaving the Asharf Ghani regime to negotiate a political settlement with Taliban through their mentors across the Durand Line. National security planners say that a settlement with Taliban will be detrimental to peace in the region as it will further strengthen the proxies of Pakistan, including the Haqqani network. They add that the US will give a green signal to talks with Taliban on the assurance that the fundamentalist group will not attack American bases monitoring developments in Iran, Central Asia, Russia and China.