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National Security & Defense

U.S. Sanctions China for Buying Russian Arms

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Vladivostok, Russia September 11, 2018. (Donat Sorokin//Reuters)

The U.S. sanctioned a Chinese military agency on Thursday for cutting deals with Russia to purchase weapons.

Trump administration officials from the State and Treasury Departments announced the U.S. has  imposed sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department and its director, Li Shangfu, for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles.

China’s “significant transactions” with Russia’s state defense-equipment exporter, Rosoboronexport, included 20 Russian Sukhoi-25 fighter jets last year and S-400 surface-to-air missiles this year. The sanctions were explained by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert in a statement:

The sanctions being imposed on EDD are a denial of export licenses; a prohibition on foreign exchange transactions under United States jurisdiction; a prohibition on transactions with the United States financial system; blocking of all property and interests in property within United States jurisdiction; and the imposition of sanctions on an EDD principal executive officer, its director Li Shangfu, which include a prohibition on foreign exchange transactions under United States jurisdiction, a prohibition on transactions with the United States financial system, blocking of all property and interests in property within United States jurisdiction, and a visa ban.

“I want to emphasize that the ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia,” a senior administration official told reporters. “Since China has now gone ahead and, in fact, done what is clearly a significant transaction . . . we feel it necessary and indeed we are required by the law take this step today. We hope that this step will send a signal of our seriousness and perhaps encourage others to think twice about their own engagement with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors.”

The U.S. also sanctioned 33 Russians involved with Russian military and intelligence Thursday, adding them to the list of those prohibited from conducting significant military transactions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the law passed last year in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The State Department said the law has stopped “billions of dollars worth of potential arms exports from Russia.”

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