Issue Briefs

Punishing India For Buying Russian Weapons Would Hurt America And Help China (From Forbes)

Punishing India For Buying Russian Weapons Would Hurt America And Help China (From Forbes)

Loren B. Thompson

October 18th, 2021

The Biden administration will soon need to decide whether to sanction India for purchasing Russia’s S-400 air defense system. Doing so would be a big mistake. Washington has been working hard to build bridges to India, and now it needs New Delhi to participate closely with Australia and Japan in a quadripartite coalition to contain China’s regional ambitions. Any imposition of sanctions at this point would be counter-productive, especially if levied in response to India’s purchase of defensive systems such as the S-400. After all, India is the only country in the world that shares a border with not one but two hostile nuclear powers (China and Pakistan). President Biden has the latitude under sanctions legislation to exempt India from punishment if it is deemed critical to national security, and that’s what he should do. In the meantime, India might want to send a conciliatory signal to Washington by selecting an America product for one of its ongoing fighter competitions–demonstrating that New Delhi’s days of depending on Russian weapons are fast receding into history. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.

The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.

Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern