US may impose sanctions on Egypt over Russian fighter jet deal

Washington may impose sanctions on Egypt under a US law which targets purchases of military equipment from Russia.

    Egypt earlier this year signed a $2bn agreement with Russia to buy more than 20 Su-35 fighter jets, seen here being flown by a Russian aerobatic team during a rehearsal for the airshow in Krasnoyarsk, Russia [File: Ilya Naymushin/Reuters]
    Egypt earlier this year signed a $2bn agreement with Russia to buy more than 20 Su-35 fighter jets, seen here being flown by a Russian aerobatic team during a rehearsal for the airshow in Krasnoyarsk, Russia [File: Ilya Naymushin/Reuters]

    The United States could impose sanctions on Egypt and block it from future military sales if it goes ahead with a purchase of Russian warplanes, a US official said on Monday.

    Egypt earlier this year signed a $2bn agreement with Russia to buy more than 20 Su-35 fighter jets.

    "It puts them at risk of sanctions, and it puts them at risk of loss of future acquisitions. It's not a new thing," Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R Clarke Cooper told reporters at the Dubai Airshow.

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    "Cairo is clearly aware of this. It's not new news."

    Washington could impose sanctions under its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which targets purchases of military equipment from Russia.

    The Egyptian government could not immediately be reached for comment.

    The US has, over the years, provided billions of dollars in economic and military aid to Egypt, a longtime ally whose military operates the F-16 fighter jet.

    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 US and other NATO countries.

    US-ally and NATO member Turkey was pulled from the F-35 warplane programme earlier this year by Washington after Ankara went ahead with a deal for the Russian S-400 air defence system.

    However, US President Donald Trump has stopped short of imposing sanctions on Turkey under CAATSA.

    Trump told Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week that for Ankara and Washington to maintain their relationship, the system would either need to be destroyed, compartmentalised or returned to Russia, Cooper said.

    "Turkey still remains in the cold on the F-35 programme," he said.

    Other US allies in the region are also exploring major Russian purchases, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have both expressed interest in the S-400, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which signed an outline agreement for the Su-35 in 2017.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency