Saturday, November 27, 2021 | 05:47 pm

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Urged To Raise Farmers’ Protest, Oppose S-400 Deal on India Visit

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Urged To Raise Farmers’ Protest, Oppose S-400 Deal on India Visit

A senior U.S senator has urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to oppose the USD 5.4-billion India-Russia deal for S-400 air defense systems and raise the issue of farmers’ protest during his visit to New Delhi.

Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a letter to Austin said that “if India chooses to go forward with its purchase of the S-400, that act will clearly constitute a significant, and therefore sanctionable, transaction with the Russian defense sector under Section 231 of CAATSA”.

Washington has already imposed sanctions on Turkey for buying the anti-aircraft weapon system developed by Russia’s Almaz Central Design Bureau.

‘Buying S-400 will limit India’s ability to procure sensitive military tech from US’
“It will also limit India’s ability to work with the U.S. on development and procurement of sensitive military technology. I expect you to make all of these challenges clear in conversations with your Indian counterparts,” said Menendez.

In his letter, Senator Menendez complained about the Indian democracy and urged Austin to raise concerns over the ”deteriorating democratic condition” with Indian leaders.

“I would like to see the US-India partnership grow, but we must acknowledge that the partnership is strongest when based on shared democratic values and the Indian government has been trending away from those values,” he wrote.

US Senator raises CAA, cites Freedom House Report
The Senator also cited the Freedom House report which had downgraded India’s status to a ‘partly free’ country.

“Moreover, in recent years, rising anti-Muslim sentiment and related government actions like the Citizenship Amendment Act, the suppression of political dialogue and arrest of political opponents following the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, and the use of sedition laws to persecute political opponents have resulted in the U.S. human rights group Freedom House stripping India of its ‘Free’ status in its yearly global survey,” wrote the Senator.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) rejected the report saying India has well-established democratic practices and does not need “sermons” from those who cannot get their basics right.