US Senate passes massive defence bill, paves way for military equipment waiver to India from sanctions over Russia


The United States Congress has passed the conference report on National Defense Authorization Act-2019 (NDAA-19), which paves the way for waiver to India from punitive Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA, sanctions kick off on countries that purchase significant military equipment from Russia.

The Senate passed the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 87 to 10.

Passed by the House last week, the bill, named after Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, would provide USD 716 billion support in funding for national defense for fiscal year 2019.

The bill, which now moves to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign it into law, among other things, provides a modified waiver to section 231 of CAATSA.

Unlike the existing version of the act, the proposed modified waiver requires presidential certifications designed to protect US alliances, military operations and sensitive technology.

“The CAATSA waiver that the Congress has made available to India in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act should provide ample flexibility for New Delhi to proceed with the purchase of the Russian S-400 system,” Joshua White, a former senior official of the National Security Council in the White House, told PTI.

“The legislative language is designed to look very tough, as though the Congress is tightening its secondary sanctions on countries that procure Russian equipment. In reality, the language contains multiple loopholes that benefit India,” he said.

“The most significant (such) loophole allows the President to certify that a country is “cooperating with the United States Government on other matters that are critical to United States strategic national security interests”. As certifications go, this one is relatively easy to justify in the case of India,” White said.


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