The United States threatens Egypt of possible sanctions over Cairo's decision to purchase fighter jets from Russia.
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.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper sent a letter on Wednesday to Cairo, urging the country to scrap a deal to purchase Su-35 jets from Russia, reported Xinhua quoting a US-based media.
"Major new arms deals with Russia would-at a minimum-complicate future U.S. defense transactions with and security assistance to Egypt," read the letter.
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.
Reportedly, Cairo signed a 2-billion-dollar agreement with Moscow earlier this year to buy more than 20 Su-35 jets.
The letter came as Washington is also putting pressure on Turkey, another regional power and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to drop its bid to acquire Russian S-400 missile systems.
The Turkish purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Moscow violates the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which prohibits major purchases of Russian military hardware. Moreover, it prompted Washington to eject Turkey from its F-35 joint strike fighter program.
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.