Egypt risks coming under sanctions by the US if it goes ahead with purchasing Russian Su-35 fighter jets.
US State Department’s assistant secretary in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper made the comment while speaking to reporters of the biennial Dubai Airshow.
Cooper said the planned purchase of Russian jets puts Egypt “at risk of sanctions and it puts them at risk of loss of future acquisitions. It’s not a new thing.”
Washington could impose sanctions under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which targets purchases of military equipment from Russia.
“Cairo is clearly aware of this. It’s not new news.”
Egypt earlier this year signed a $2 billion agreement with Russia to buy more than 20 Su-35 fighter jets.
The Egyptian government has not provided any comment on the claims, but it is likely that its decision will not be swayed by the US sanction threat.
Cooper said using the Su-35 and other Russian weapons systems could pose a threat to a country’s ability to operate jointly with the militaries of the United States and other NATO countries.
Russia also carried out large-scale air defense drills in Egypt in late October 2019. The exercises come one week after President Vladimir Putin held a summit for African leaders in Sochi focused on enhancing Russia’s role across the continent, ranging from trade and weapons sales to military partnerships.
“For the first time, the two friendly nations’ military will act hand-in-hand,” Russian Col. Valery Chernysh, who oversees the Arrow of Friendship drills, said in a statement. “The Russian and Egyptian servicemen will exchange experience and learn how to work together when using modern air defense systems.”
Earlier, in 2017, Moscow and Cairo also agreed to allow, if needed, the joint use of military air bases between the countries.
Moves like this clearly portray the crisis in which US diplomacy around the world has found itself.
Earlier in 2019, the US pulled Turkey out of the F-35 program, because Ankara decided to go ahead with the purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system.
China has struck numerous arms procurement deals with Russia in recent months, and US threat of sanctions under CAATSA have done little to sway the decision.
According to Cooper, US President Donald Trump, in his November 13th meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that for Ankara and Washington to maintain their relationship, the system would either need to be destroyed, compartmentalized or returned to Russia.
In September 2019, it was announced that India’s purchases of Russian weapons have reached $14.5 billion and US threats of sanctions have done little to stop the stride of cooperation.
India is the largest buyer of Russian military hardware, having signed a $5 billion deal for Russian S-400 surface to air missile systems in 2018.
“Last year and today saw the emergence of a tremendous portfolio of contracts in contrast to all previous years, $14.5 billion,” Dmitry Shugayev, the head of FSVTS (Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation), told reporters. “It’s a real breakthrough.”
In addition to the $5 billion S-400 deal, India and Russia have last year signed deals to deliver project 11356 frigates as well as air force, navy and ground force ammunition.
Other, traditional US allies are also looking into purchasing Russian arms or defense systems – Saudi Arabia and Qatar have both expressed interest in the S-400, while the United Arab Emirates signed an outline agreement for the Su-35 in 2017.
The threats by the US, and even the employment of sanctions have done little, which is quite showing for the state of international “pull” US diplomacy has currently.
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