Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia. (AP)
New Delhi: While talking about India’s view and position on unilateral sanctions in Vladivostok, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said there was concern and debate over such sanctions as they didn’t just impact the country concerned but also had a bearing on other nations and the global economy at large.
What was interesting though that this message was sent out from a Russian platform — the Eastern Economic Forum 2019 in Vladivostok. Russian defence companies have been under US sanctions, which had earlier put a question mark on India’s S-400 deal with Russia.
However, India took a firm stand on the issue and during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to New Delhi in June, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar made it quite clear that India would go ahead with the deal.
He said, “On the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) issue, Secretary Pompeo knows and I have explained to him in some detail, that we have many relationships with many countries. Many of them are of some standing, they have a history. I think, we will do what is in our national interest, energy security is part of it but there are other concerns as well.”
India’s stand on the S-400 deal may also have been firm because there was room for negotiation under CAATSA. The Act does allow the executive to seek a waiver from the Congress for some countries. However, India has been unable to manoeuvre in its own interest as far as sanctions against Iran were concerned this time around.
At the same press meet, Jaishankar said that India had brought down its oil imports from Iran post the discontinuation of waiver granted to eight countries, including India on May 2, 2019. This, even as exactly a year ago in May 2018, the then External Affairs Minister late Sushma Swaraj, had said, “We are saying it very clearly that we recognise UN sanctions and not any country-specific sanctions. Last time, even when the United States imposed sanctions on Iran, our business continued with them.”
A senior US diplomatic source had termed India sticking to Iran sanctions as a quid pro quo for America’s help in piling pressure on Pakistan to act against terror entities harming India. It had also pushed for Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar’s sanctioning by the UNSC 1267 Committee in return.
India is an energy-dependent economy and relies vastly on the Gulf region for its supplies. Even as India is now actively exploring other options of sourcing energy, for example, in the Russian Far East, it is well aware of shocks unilateral sanctions can send to domestic and global markets. Hence, the statement by Modi is being seen as a message to the US.
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