Egypt risks US sanctions over fighter deal


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

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

“It puts them at risk of sanctions and 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.

“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 United States provided billions of dollars in economic and military aid to Egypt, a long-time ally whose military operates the F-16 fighter jet.

Cooper said using the Su-35 and other Russian weapon systems could pose a threat to a country’s ability to operate jointly with the militaries of the US and NATO countries.

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

President Donald Trump stopped short of imposing sanctions on Turkey under CAATSA.

Trump told Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan 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 exploring Russian purchases, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which expressed interest in the S-400 and the United Arab Emirates which signed an outline agreement for the Su-35 in 2017.