President Biden took a shot at India on Monday by saying New Delhi has been “somewhat shaky” on its stance towards Russia as other US partners are falling in line and joining the effort to isolate Moscow.
“In response to his aggression, we have presented a united front throughout the NATO and in the Pacific,” Biden said in an address to US business leaders. “The Quad — with the possible exception of India being somewhat shaky on some of these — but Japan has been extremely strong, so is Australia in terms of dealing with Putin’s aggression.”
The US has been working to strengthen military cooperation between the Quad nations over the past few years as part of its strategy to counter China. As part of this effort, the US and India have boosted military cooperation, but New Delhi’s relationship with Moscow now appears to be a point of contention for Washington.
Since Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, India has not condemned the invasion and has not joined the West in imposing sanctions against Moscow. While the US banned the import of Russian oil and its European allies are looking to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, India plans to increase its imports of Russian oil.
India also relies on Moscow for its arms supply, and the US is considering sanctioning New Delhi over its stockpile of Russian weapons. Earlier this month, a State Department official said the US could sanction India under the 2017 Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
The CAATSA allows the president to impose sanctions over the transfer of Russian military equipment and was used by the Trump administration to target Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.
If the US sanctions India now, it would likely only drive New Delhi closer to Moscow. But the Biden administration has shown an eagerness to impose sanctions even when they can counter Washington’s interest. On Monday, the administration sanctioned Chinese officials as the US has been trying to convince Beijing to take a harder line towards Moscow.