Indonesia's Deputy Defense Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono assured that Jakarta has not canceled the purchase of 11 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia.
He denied rumors that the purchase of Su-35 fighter jets from Russia was cancelled because the pressure from US officials. "We have never canceled it," Trenggono said, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
At the same time, Trenggono said that, at this time, Indonesia cannot buy the aircraft from Russia. According to him, there are still some obstacles.
He was reluctant to reveal what obstacles Indonesia is facing to conclude purchase of 11 fighter jets from Russia. "We can't buy them yet because there are some obstacles," he said.
On the other hand, Trenggono said Jakarta is considering other options. He said that the Indonesian government is open to consider other options like purchasing F-35 jets from the United States. "We are exploring the possibility of the purchase of F-35s from the US," he said.
Reports that Indonesia is canceling the purchase of Su-35 fighter jets from Russia came after an Indonesian official, who did not want to be named, said that the US insisted that President Joko Widodo's government could be subject to sanctions if it continued the contract with Russia.
Bloomberg reported, citing an unnamed Indonesian official, that, in several meetings with US counterparts, including the secretary of defense, Indonesian officials repeatedly asked why they were being told not to buy the Russian fighter jets.
The Americans said simply it was their policy, Bloomberg's source said, adding that Indonesia suspected it was also because the Russian fighters would provide an edge over neighboring Australia and Singapore.
The Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. On August 2, 2017, President Donald Trump signed it into law.
According the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, "Indonesian officials privately admit the real problem is CAATSA, which would apply a variety of sanctions to individuals and organizations that engage in 'transactions with the intelligence or defense sectors of the Russian Federation'... The willingness of the US to impose such sanctions, or whether any waiver might be obtained, has been at the forefront of security diplomacy between Washington and Jakarta in recent months."