The US Congress has cleared a $716bn defense bill that will exempt particular countries, including India, from sanctions for dealing with Russia.
This will allow New Delhi "to proceed with the purchase of Moscow's S-400 system" without hampering relations with Washington, said Joshua White, a former National Security Council official.
In fact, "the language contains multiple loopholes that benefit India," he added.
What is the CAATSA?
Amendments were introduced in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), passed in August'17.
It was aimed at curbing Iranian, Russian and North Korean aggression.
Under Section 231, the US can impose at least five sanctions listed in Section 235 on countries engaged in "significant transactions" with Russian defense and intelligence.
Two of these include suspension of military-related export license and restriction on American investment.
What amendments were made?
The Congress has now passed the National Defense Authorization Act-2019 (NDAA-19), amending Section 231.
It now facilitates presidential certifications to protect US alliances, military operations and technology.
"The most significant loophole allows the President to certify that a country is 'cooperating with US on other matters critical strategic national security interests.' This one is relatively easy to justify in India's case," White said.
It comes with some conditions
However, under this legislation, the administration will have to track the degree to which India "is taking or will take steps" to reduce its Russian equipment inventory.
"This means neither Washington nor Delhi can point to a long-term, historical decline in India's inventory of Russian equipment, but have to identify specific and forward-looking efforts to do so," White explained.
These can become "political irritants," he warned.
NDAA restricts Chinese advancements to handle "emerging threats"
Simultaneously, the bill places prohibitions on China: it can't participate in the RIMPAC, the world's largest international maritime warfare drill, and local companies' access to certain telecom equipment is restricted.
This will ensure US is equipped to handle "emerging threats" from China.
"No country has been more aggressive than China in going after American technology in aviation, robotics and others," Senator Sherrod Brown said.