US sanctions China for buying Russian fighter jets, missiles

Frederick Owens
September 21, 2018

China called on the United States on Friday to withdraw sanctions it imposed on a Chinese military organization for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russian Federation or "bear the consequences".

"The US actions have seriously violated the basic principles of worldwide relations and seriously damaged the relations between the two countries and the two militaries", said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, adding Beijing had lodged an official protest with the United States.

"We strongly urge the United States side to correct the mistakes immediately and revoke the so-called sanctions".

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that China's Equipment Development Department and director Li Shangfu made a "significant transaction" involving the purchase of Russian combat aircraft and surface-to-air missiles.

According to the US, China's purchase of Russian jets and surface-to-air missile equipment violated a 2017 law that was meant to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin's government for interfering in the 2016 US elections.

Trump has insisted there was no collusion with Russian Federation, although there is no federal crime of collusion to begin with.

A State Department official told CBS News' Kylie Atwood on Thursday that the "ultimate target" of the new sanctions is Russian Federation, not China.

Russian member of parliament Franz Klintsevich said earlier the sanctions would not affect the S-400 and SU-35 deals.

"They are instead aimed at imposing costs upon Russian Federation in response to its malign activities", the official said.

"The possession of this of this military equipment is very important for China", he added.

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Security analysts in Asia said the move was largely symbolic and would only push Moscow and Beijing closer together.

"As to other potential recipients of the S-400, we haven't made any determinations yet with respect to what to do about those, but you can be confident that we have spent an enormous amount of time talking about prospective purchases of things such as S-400s and Sukhois with people all around the world who may have been interested in such things and some who may still be", the official said.

The anti-Russian sanctions targeting China and other countries undermined global stability, Moscow said, according to AFP.

"Both countries are opposed to what they see as US bullying and these kind of actions will just push Beijing and Moscow even closer together", he said, adding that Moscow needed Chinese money and Beijing wanted advanced military technology.

Members of Congress, including many of Trump's fellow Republicans, who passed the sanctions bill almost unanimously, have repeatedly called on the administration to take a harder line against Moscow.

The senior official stressed that CAATSA is not going to be implemented across the board, but that the USA was choosing Russia's sale of "bigger ticket items" of "new, fancy, qualitatively significant stuff" that could have a "security impact" on the United States.

Administration officials said they hoped the action against EDD would send a message to others considering buying the S-400.

They did not say whether North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which is also expected to purchase S-400 missile systems from Russian Federation - would also face sanctions.

USA officials have warned that Turkey's purchase of the system could contravene CAATSA.

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