US warns Egypt of sanctions over planned Russian warplanes purchase
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper sent a joint letter to Egyptian Defence Minister Sedki Sobhy, calling on him to cancel the deal to buy Russian warplanes.
The letter also informed Sobhy that Egypt could face sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which bars the purchase of Russian military and defence equipment.
Egypt signed a $2 billion dollar deal with Russia in early 2019 to buy 20 Sukhoi 35 jets. The letter arrived as Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Egypt to discuss military cooperation.
"Major new arms deals with Russia would - at a minimum -complicate future U.S. defence transactions with and security assistance to Egypt," the letter, which was seen by the Wall Street Journal, said.
The US has provided Egypt with billions of dollars worth of military and economic aid over the past few decades. This has continued despite Egypt's poor human rights record, which includes the detention, torture and killing of thousands of political opponents.
US President Donald Trump has previously called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi his "favourite dictator".
However, the US has not followed through on a verbal commitment Trump made to Sisi in 2018 to sell Egypt 20 F-35 fighter jets, despite repeated requests from Egyptian officials.
The US has banned the sale of the F-35 to every country in the Middle East except Israel, despite Trump's promise to Sisi.
Earlier this year, the US cancelled delivery of F-35 jets to Turkey after it purchased the Russian S-400 air defence system, citing concerns that the S-400's radar capabilities could gather intelligence about the new US warplanes.
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