China, Russia warn USA of consequences over sanctions

Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets fly in formation during a demonstration at the MAKS 2017 air show outside Moscow

Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets fly in formation during a demonstration at the MAKS 2017 air show outside Moscow

The United States hit a Chinese military organisation with punishing financial sanctions for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles as it stepped up pressure on Moscow over its "malign activities".

On Thursday, the United States slapped sanctions on China's military Equipment Development Department (EDD) after Beijing bought 10 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missiles from Russian blacklisted operatives.

On Thursday, the USA added China's Equipment Development Department and its director to a sanctions blacklist. The agency and director Li have been added to a Blocked Persons List.

The sanctions imposed Thursday include a visa ban for Li and restrict both Li and the Chinese agency, a component of the country's Central Military Commission, from engaging in transactions with the US financial system as well as blocking their access to property and interests within USA jurisdiction.

Sanctions on Li will also prohibit him using the USA financial system and making foreign exchanges, and block any of his property or interests.

They also said that the U.S. could consider similar action against other countries taking delivery of Russian fighter jets and missiles.

"China expresses strong indignation at these unreasonable actions by the USA side and has already lodged stern representations", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing on September 20.

Russian Federation on Friday called a new wave of us sanctions misguided, saying Washington's habit of using sanctions against Moscow risked undermining global stability and was part of a unsafe game.

Moscow denies any effort to meddle in USA politics, although Vladimir Putin admitted at a summit this summer with Trump that he wanted the Republican to prevail in the 2016 election over Hillary Clinton.

The U.S. State Department said it would immediately impose sanctions on China's Equipment Development Department (EDD), the military branch responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in "significant transactions" with Rosoboronexport, Russia's main arms exporter.

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At the same time, the State Department also announced it was placing 33 Russian intelligence and military-linked actors on its sanctions blacklist under the CAATSA rules.

A federal special counsel is leading a criminal investigation of Russian interference in the USA election, and any possible cooperation with Trump's presidential campaign. However, under strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it has more recently grown closer to Russian Federation - including ordering the very same S-400s that landed China in hot water this week.

"Both countries are opposed to what they see as USA 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. "China and Russia may think "we have to partner to share the cost and share the technology", so you get Chinese-Russian products", Wezeman said.

Collin Koh, a security analyst at Singapore's S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the sanctions would do little to counter the evolving research and development relationship between China and Russian Federation.

China's EDD and its director Li Shangfu became targets after taking delivery over the past year of the jets and missiles from Rosoboronexport, Russia's main arms exporter already on the USA blacklist for its support of Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria.

CAATSA, or the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, was passed in 2017 as a tool that gives the Trump administration more ways to target Russia, Iran and North Korea with economic and political sanctions.

The U.S. has slapped sanctions on the Chinese military over China's relationship with Russian Federation.

If anyone strikes the business deals with those blacklisted by the USA can face sanctions like imposed on China. It can target stealth warplanes, such as the Pentagon's latest F-35 fighter jet.

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.

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