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CAATSA: America's Secret Weapon in the Arms Race

CAATSA: America's Secret Weapon In The Arms Race
The summer 2017 "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act", or CAATSA, is being wielded by America as its most powerful weapon in the international arms race.

Among its various competencies, it allows the US to sanction Moscow's military partners on the supposed basis that their business dealings are violating existing American restrictions against Russian companies, thus giving Washington a potentially global playing field in which to wage so-called "lawfare". According to Reuters, it's precisely because of CAATSA that the $6 billion S-400 deal struck between Russia and India in 2016 has stalled due to New Delhi's hesitancy to flout Washington's sanctions without a legal exemption, which the outlet cites an expert as saying could be possible if the US determines that India or any other country is reducing their purchases of Russian wares. 

That specific clause is also particularly applicable to Vietnam, which is one of Russia's top military partners but has in recent years been trying to "rebalance" relations with the West just like India has due to its unstated but strongly implied interest in "containing" China.

Traditional Russian partners aren't the only ones under pressure with CAATSA though, since newfound ones that have historically been tied to the US such as Turkey are also in the crosshairs as well. Russia plans to sell S-400s to that country too but the US has threatened to sanction its nominal NATO ally if it does, an unprecedented act of intimidation that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov decried as "blackmail" designed "to provide an atmosphere of unfair competition for American companies." With the stroke of a pen, Trump made it all the more difficult for Russia to practice its "military diplomacy" in using arms exports across the world as a means to maintain strategic balances and thus support regional stability. This mean that Russia's planned S-400 sale to Saudi Arabia might also be in jeopardy.

From being a seemingly obscure piece of legislation last year to transforming into the US' secret weapon of "lawfare" in the international arms race this year, CAATSA is fast becoming one of America's most important sanctions instruments with what increasingly appears to be a global reach.

Adam Garrie, Director of Eurasia Future and Dr. Chandra Rekha, Associate Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies in India commented on the issue.

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