US sanctions Chinese military for buying Russian weapons

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Washington, Sep 21 (IANS) The US has imposed sanctions against China’s military for its purchases of Russian military equipment in a move US officials said is meant to punish Moscow for its “malign activities”, including attacks on American elections.

“Today’s actions are not intended to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of any country,” the State Department said in a statement on Thursday “but rather to impose costs on Russia in response to its interference in the US election process, its unacceptable behaviour in eastern Ukraine, and other malign activities”.

The penalties were applied under a law that requires the US to sanction anyone undertaking significant transactions with certain people affiliated with Russian intelligence and military services, including arms manufacturers, reports CNN.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also expanded that blacklist on Thursday, adding the names of 33 Russians to bring the total roster to 72 people.

Pompeo, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, imposed sanctions on the Chinese military’s Equipment Development Department and its director, Li Shangfu, for purchasing Su-35 combat aircraft and a S-400 surface-to-air missile system from Russia.

“This is a significant step,” a senior administration official told the media.

The official said it was the first time anyone has been sanctioned for doing business with people on the blacklist of Russian operatives.

The list is mandated by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, passed by Congress amid concern that President Donald Trump would not take tough action against Russia and could even move to ease sanctions on Moscow.

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