Dr. S. Jaishankar is simply on a roll. He is giving one witty remark after another. We saw him at his very best during his US tour and the 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministers meeting. And he has actually set a new trend in diplomacy with his remarks about India too having concerns about human rights in the US and Europe buying in one afternoon, the quantity of Russian oil that India buys in an entire month. However, there was another unequivocal rebuttal that many didn’t notice. I am talking about Dr. S. Jaishankar’s unequivocal rebuttal to the Biden administration on the CAATSA question.
“It is their legislation”, said Jaishankar
The External Affairs Minister was quite unequivocal and clear on the issue of America’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Dr Jaishankar said that it is American legislation and it is for the US to decide on it.
The External Affairs Minister said, “It is their legislation and whatever has to be done has to be done by them.” He was also quite clear about the fact that whatever is necessary for India’s security will be done without being concerned about any restrictions.
This was one major statement of intent- India is serious about securing its defence needs and it is the US that has to understand this while making necessary adjustments.
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Calling out Biden administration’s threats
Now, Dr S. Jaishankar’s statement wasn’t just witty but also a sharp diplomatic manoeuvre.
Remember, the Biden administration was constantly using the CAATSA threat to bully India. US officials were making some subtle and some not-so-subtle remarks that suggested Washington, D.C. could sanction India, if India did not toe the Biden administration’s line on issues like Ukraine crisis.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken too said, “We continue to urge all countries to avoid major new transactions for Russian weapons systems, particularly in light of what Russia is doing to Ukraine. We’ve not yet made a determination on potential sanctions or potential waivers under the CATSAA law.”
In March, a US official said, “I can assure you that the administration will follow the CAATSA law and fully implement that law and will consult with Congress as we move forward with any of them. What unfortunately I am not able to say is to prejudge the decisions of the President or the (Secretary of State) on the waiver issue or on the sanctions issue, or whether Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will bear on that decision.”
So, the Biden administration was trying to keep India on tenterhooks. It was trying to use the CAATSA threat in order to ensure that India doesn’t take an independent stand on key strategic issues.
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Jaishankar helps India move ahead with its security interests
As per the latest report by The Print, India has received a batch of simulators and training equipment for the first squadron of the S-400 air defence system. So, India is working with Moscow on the air defence system that it had purchased in the year 2018.
On the other hand, we aren’t looking at any sharp or critical reaction from the US. Suddenly, no one is talking about CAATSA either. Dr. Jaishankar has effectively ended the CAATSA issue by telling the Biden administration officials that it is for them to sort out the issue. Now, Biden administration is unlikely to escalate the issue from here on.
On his part, Dr. Jaishankar always knew that the CAATSA issue was just an empty threat and the US President was never actually in a position to follow through on it. All that India needed to do was call out the threat and end the issue for once and for all. This has been evidently achieved. This is a big achievement but for Dr. S. Jaishankar, this is just another day in office.