US senior administration official has warned Egypt against buying a Russian Su-35 multi-role air-defense fighters and air-launched weapons.
“In terms of the expanding Russian influence in the region, that’s obviously something which we are quite concerned. We don’t see a lot of material benefits to engagements with the Russians”, the official said on Monday. “We just would encourage the Egyptians to turn more toward the West, toward the United States”.
According to him, Washington has already faced the same situation with China, India, and Turkey. The official explained that Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA (the law on countering America’s opponents through sanctions) is in effect in the United States. The document provides for retaliatory measures for those countries that enter into transactions with the Russian defense or intelligence sectors.
“The president views the relationship with Egypt, as he does all of our … relationships with foreign countries … through the lens of America First and what serves our interest,” the official said.
The official said the administration was encouraging Egypt to develop democratic institutions while being mindful of U.S. security interests.
According to media reports in recent weeks, Egypt would buy “over two dozen” Su-35 fighter jets from Russia. Egypt has reportedly signed a $2 billion deal with Russia to buy more than 20 Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets, as well as weapons for the aircraft. Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on March 18, the acquisition will significantly boost the Egyptian Air Force’s potential alongside deliveries of the MiG-29M/M2, which are ongoing.
Moreover, the United States wants to expand its counterterrorism partnership with Egypt given that terrorism remains a significant threat to that country’s stability, a senior administration official said in press briefing.
“Terrorism is a very significant threat to Egypt’s stability, from Libya, Sinai and the South, so they are kind of uniquely positioned to be responding to a whole range of threats in that theater. For us, it’s a very, very important partnership that we want to expand,” the official said on Monday.
The official noted that Egypt plays an important diplomatic role in negotiating with Hamas, and is working to persuade the Palestinian movement to comply with the conditions that would move them out of being considered a terrorist organization.