U.S. sanctions on Russian military exports have put the brakes on a $6 billion deal with India and may derail the arms purchases of other U.S. allies around Asia, experts say.
Under a law that U.S. President Donald Trump signed in August, any country trading with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors will face sanctions.
The law is designed to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, involvement in the Syrian civil war and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
But American allies who buy weapons and equipment from Russia, the world’s second-largest arms exporter, could suffer as well.
The highest-profile example is India, which wants to buy five S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile systems that the country’s military sees as a game changer. The systems are touted as being able to counter the ballistic missiles and stealth aircraft that China is developing, while overwhelming the capabilities of Pakistan, India’s other main adversary.
The deal, which Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck as part of an inter-government agreement in 2016, has run headlong into the U.S. sanctions law, two officials in Delhi said.
Indonesia and Vietnam also buy weapons from Russia while being regional partners of the United States. Jakarta closed a $ 1.14 billion pact for Sukhoi fighters recently, while Vietnam is seeking more jet fighter-bombers from Russia.
And with both Almaz-Antey Air and Space Defense Corporation, which makes the S-400, and Rosoboronexport, which negotiates Russian export deals, listed as under sanction, those deals have become trickier.
“The optics of a major arms purchase from Russia looks quite ‘iffy’ from the point of view of Western capitals, especially at a time when Russia-West relations are at an all-time low and India seeks strategic convergence with the West, including with the U.S.” said Abhijnan Rej, a defense strategy expert at Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi think tank.
The U.S.-led airstrikes this month against facilities of the Syrian government, an ally of Russia, has further aggravated tensions between the superpowers.
A Russian source close to the Indian S-400 deal said “a lot will depend on the confidence and sanity of our Indian partners.”
The effects of the U.S. sanctions law could be more sweeping than intended, said Cara Abercrombie, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Vietnam, whose air force flies Russian-made Su-30 fighters and uses the S-300 air defense system, wants to continue modernizing its inventory.
Vietnamese military scholar Carl Thayer said he believed Moscow was still pushing Hanoi to invest in state-of-the-art S-400 missile defenses as part of its long-term military plans.
“I think it is clear that Russia is still pressing Vietnam for big deals,” Thayer said, noting that the two countries already have had reciprocal visits by defense ministers this year.
But with the United States working hard to promote sales of American military hardware, and sanctions against Russia’s exporting agencies, Vietnam’s plans could prove overly costly.
Indonesia, meanwhile, said the delivery of the first couple of Sukhoi Su-35 jets out of a total of 11 is on track for this year. Officials said that so far they did not anticipate any changes to the deal with the Russians.
Indonesian defense officials declined to describe what, if anything, they might do to tackle the fallout of the sanctions imposed on Russian arms sales. A THORNY PROBLEM
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra held discussions with U.S. officials in Washington last month to try to find a solution, a second Indian official said.
The issue is crucial to the Indian military, because without Russian parts, supplies and maintenance help, “our ships won’t sail, our planes won’t fly,” the official said. “We can hardly be the regional security provider that America wants us to be at this rate.”
One way to avoid secondary sanctions would be if the U.S. determines that India is reducing its dependence on Russian arms, said Atman Trivedi, managing director of Hills & Company, a Washington-based firm that advises on international trade and investment.
Russian hardware represented 62 percent of the country’s total weapons imports during the past five years, compared with 79 percent in 2008-2012, the Stockholm Peace Research Institute said in a report last month.
The U.S. administration could also declare that imposing sanctions on India, a major defense partner, would hurt U.S. national security interests. That would allow a waiver permitting India to do business with Russia.
The United States has emerged as India’s No. 2 weapons supplier, closing $ 15 billion worth of deals over the last decade. Now Lockheed Martin and Boeing are leading the race to provide India with a fleet of new fighter-bombers, one of the world’s largest open tenders.
“The intent of the legislation was never to disrupt U.S.-India defense relations, which Congress has repeatedly recognized in law as a strategic priority to the U.S.,” said Benjamin Schwartz, aerospace and defense head at United States India Business Council.
Abercrombie of Carnegie added that if Congress grants waivers to India, it may also need to do so for other countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia.
“The bottom line: India warrants an exemption from these secondary sanctions, as does any country with which the U.S. is forging new and strategically important defense relations,” she said.
German land systems specialist Rheinmetall AG has been selected to supply Skyshield air defence systems to the unnamed Asian customer.
An Asian nation has contracted with Rheinmetall to supply it with advanced air defence technology. In a competitive bidding process, Rheinmetall Air Defence won the order to supply the customer with the latest generation of its Skyshield systems. The contract, booked in April of this year, is worth over €100 million. Production of the systems is already under way. Shipment will take place over the course of the next three years.
Besides reconnaissance sensors, 35mm fire units and the accompanying command and control equipment, the contract includes a comprehensive logistics and service package.
Rheinmetall will be providing complete training for operators and maintenance personnel as well as technical assistance and live fire exercise support in the customer country. Moreover, local companies will take part in the project, including construction of buildings and vehicle procurement.
Rheinmetall attaches great commercial importance to this contract, with follow-up orders already on the horizon.
Upacara serah terima kapal selam KRI Ardadedali 404 [Antara]
Menteri Pertahanan Ryamizard Ryacudu mengatakan adanya kapal selam Ardadedali-404 meningkatkan kemampuan pertahanan nasional dan menambah daya gentar Indonesia di kawasan.
"Diresmikannya KRI Ardadedali-404, maka kekuatan TNI Angkatan Laut akan semakin bertambah serta memberikan efek gentar," ujar Menhan dalam acara penamaan kapal dan penyerahan KRI Ardadedali-404 di galangan kapal Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME), Okpo, Korea Selatan, Rabu.
Meningkatnya kemampuan pertahanan nasional tersebut, tutur Menhan, akan menjadi momentum penting pembangunan kekuatan pertahanan negara di laut ke depan.
Selain itu, Ryamizard Ryacudu menuturkan bertambahnya kapal selam meningkatkan optimisme pada kemampuan dan kekuatan pertahanan negara di laut menuju pertahanan dasar minimum.
"Pada prinsipnya tidak akan pernah terjadi sebuah pertahanan negara yang kuat tanpa ditopang oleh alutsista yang kuat pula," ucap Menhan.
Dalam kesempatan tersebut, ibu kandung kapal selam kedua dari kerja sama dengan Korea Selatan, Nora Ryamizard Ryacudu meresmikan penamaan kapal selam KRI Ardadedali-404.
Komandan kapal selam KRI Ardadedali-404 Letkol Laut (P) Widya Poerwandanu beserta awak kapal sejumlah sembilan perwira, 16 bintara, dan 15 tamtama juga dikukuhkan.
Kapal selam KRI Ardadedali-404 diperkirakan akan sampai di Pangkalan Komando Armada RI Kawasan Timur (Koarmatim) Surabaya kurang dari 20 hari sejak diberangkatkan hari ini.
Tahun lalu, kapal selam pertama, hasil kerja sama RI dan Korsel, yang diberi nama KRI Nagapasa 403 dan dikomandani oleh Letkol Laut (P) Harry Setyawan, tiba di Pangkalan Koarmatim Surabaya, pada 28 Agustus 2017 setelah berlayar selama 16 hari dari DSME.
RSN's Littoral Mission Vessel RSS Independence (foreground) with two GUSKAMLABAR Quick Reaction Force fast boats intercepting the "terrorist" at the new counter-terrorist exercise serial supported by TNI AL's KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda (background) at Ex Eagle Indopura. [Sing Mindef, RSN]
The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) are conducting Exercise Eagle Indopura, from 19 to 27 April in Singapore and Surabaya, Indonesia. RSN Fleet Commander Colonel Edwin Leong officiated the opening ceremony at RSS Singapura - Changi Naval Base on 19 April with TNI AL's Commander Sea Combat Task Force, Eastern Fleet Command First Admiral Rachmad Jayadi in attendance. The bilateral exercise aims to enhance the interoperability and professionalism of both navies through anti-surface and anti-air warfare serials, as well as maritime security serials.
For the first time since inception, this year's exercise will feature a counter-terrorism serial in the maritime environment between the RSN’s Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) and the TNI AL's Western Fleet Sea Security Group, GUSKAMLABAR (GKBA). Both navies exercised information sharing and sense-making to enhance maritime awareness, and joint operational planning to provide effective responses for regional maritime security contingencies. During the serial, both headquarters collaborated effectively to deploy naval assets to disrupt a simulated terror attack threatening commercial shipping transiting through the Singapore Strait.
This year, the RSN participated with a Formidable-class Frigate RSS Formidable, a Victory-class Missile Corvette RSS Valour, and for the first time, an Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel RSS Independence. The TNI AL participated with two Diponegoro-class Frigates KRI Diponegoro (embarked with BO-105 helicopter) and KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda, a Kondor-class Patrol Craft KRI Pulau Rusa and Quick Reaction Force teams from GKBA, and a CN-235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
Held since 1974, Exercise Eagle Indopura is the Singapore Armed Forces' longest-running bilateral exercise with a foreign military. The exercise underscores the close and long-standing defence relationship between Singapore and Indonesia. The RSN and TNI AL conduct regular professional exchanges, exercises and port calls, and also collaborate through the multilateral Malacca Straits Patrol and other activities such as socio-civic programmes. These regular interactions have enhanced the close ties and mutual understanding between the personnel of both navies.