The U.S. has begun to warn the Egyptian government over a reported plan to purchase the Su-35 fighter jet.
Roll Call reported on April 9, 2019, that the proposed Su-35 buy “has alarmed the Trump administration,” which is concerned about Cairo’s deepening relationship with Moscow. A U.S. senior official told the media outlet, “In terms of the expanding Russian influence in the region, that’s obviously something which we are quite concerned [about]. We don’t see a lot of material benefits to engagements with the Russians. We just would encourage the Egyptians to turn more toward the West, toward the United States.”
He added that Washington could enact sanctions on Egypt – via the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA) – if it goes through with the purchase.
The comments from the senior official come as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visits the U.S. for high-level dialogue.
Last month, Kommersant reported that Egypt bought “over two dozen” Su-35s in 2018. The contract for the buy is said to be around $2 billion, with deliveries planned to start in 2020-2021. Kommersant noted that production of the jets had already begun.
However, later in March, Rosoboronexport denied that a contract had been inked. Rosoboronexport deputy head Sergei Kornev told Interfax that Russia remains ready to supply the aircraft, but indicated that a deal had not been finalized.
The U.S. has already sanctioned China, as well as Su-35 producer Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant, over Beijing’s recent acquisition of the Su-35 and the S-400. Additionally, the U.S. has sought to pressure Turkey over its effort to procure the S-400.