The United States has warned Egypt that it could face sanctions over a $2 billion contract to buy more than 20 Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Russia, which has become one of Egypt’s major arms suppliers, plans to start deliveries of Su-35 Flanker-E air-superiority fighters to the country as early as 2020-21. The U.S. sends $1.3 billion in annual military assistance to Egypt.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned Egyptian Defense Minister Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed that Cairo’s Su-35 deal could trigger sanctions, according to WSJ.
“Major new arms deals with Russia would — at a minimum — complicate future U.S. defense transactions with and security assistance to Egypt,” Pompeo and Esper were quoted as saying in a letter Wednesday.
Pentagon officials reportedly personally warned Egyptian air force chief Mohamed Abbas about the deal’s consequences. An unnamed State Department official told WSJ that Washington urges all its allies and partners to reconsider transactions with Russian defense and intelligence.
A 2017 U.S. law aiming to punish Russia for actions including alleged election interference places secondary sanctions on countries trading with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors.
Under the law, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military for buying 10 Su-35 aircraft from Russia. It also blacklisted 33 people and entities linked to Russia’s military and intelligence.