United States sanctions Chinese military unit for buying Russian arms

It was the first time a third country has been punished under the CAATSA sanctions legislation for dealing with Russian Federation, signalling Donald Trump's readiness to risk relations with other countries over Moscow.

But India overtook China as the biggest buyer of Russian weapons in 2005 and today the Chinese military is third on the list, also behind Egypt.

Sanctions on Li will also prohibit his using the United States financial system and making foreign exchanges, and block any of his property or interests.

China's Foreign Ministry on Friday said it strongly urged the United States to withdraw sanctions on the Chinese military, after the Trump administration imposed the penalties for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russian Federation.

The Trump administration also blacklisted 33 people and entities associated with the Russian military and intelligence services, adding them to a list under the 2017 sanctions law known as the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Moscow also warned that the United States was "playing with fire" and that the measures aimed at Russian Federation and China undermined global stability. "We strongly urge the U.S.to immediately correct their mistake and withdraw their so-called sanctions, otherwise the USA will have to bear the consequences".

Beijing has not joined in the sanctions imposed on Moscow by the U.S. and its Western allies since 2014.

"It would be not bad if they remembered about the concept of global stability which they are unthinkingly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russia-U.S. relations".

"Playing with fire is silly, it can become risky", he said in a statement.

While being added to the blacklist does not trigger sanctions, anyone doing business with a blacklisted person or entity could face penalties like those imposed on China.

Twenty eight of them have already been indicted by Robert Mueller, who is investigating election meddling by Russian Federation.

China's Foreign Ministry asked the U.S.to reconsider the sanctions.

The senior official stressed that CAATSA is not going to be implemented across the board, but that the USA was choosing Russia's sale of "bigger ticket items" of "new, fancy, qualitatively significant stuff" that could have a "security impact" on the United States.

Describing it as a "significant transactions", administration officials held out the threat that India too could come under sanctions if it continued with big ticket Russian arms purchases, although the administration has acquired waiver powers to spare allies and friends such as India from sanctions, and officials have indicated the U.S. will find a way to spare New Delhi the blushes.

As if all that wasn't complex enough, the US also hinted these sanctions are warnings to other countries - namely Turkey. Turkey has been warned by the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation that there could be consequences for its planned deployment of Russia's S-400 missile defence system.

The two sides have already imposed tariffs on $50 billion in goods from each country.

"We will continue to vigorously implement CAATSA and urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide", the State Department said. "It's meant to impose appropriate pressures on Russia in response to Russian malign acts", the official said.

  • Rogelio Becker