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US sanctions Chinese military agency for buying Russian equipment

The United States has sanctions on a Chinese military agency for buying defense equipment from Russia.

US State Department officials said on Thursday it would immediately impose sanctions against China’s Equipment Development Department for engaging in “significant transactions” with Russia’s Rosoboronexport.

Rosoboronexport is Russia’s main arms exporter.

Li Shangfu, the director of Equipment Development Department, which is responsible for supervising defense technology, was included in the sanctions.

China’s purchase from Russia is a breach of a sweeping US sanctions bill enacted in 2017 titled Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, according to an anonymous source.

Media reported a further 33 people and entities in transaction with Russian military and intelligence agencies were included in the sanctions blacklist.

The US sanctions target Russia only, said a State Department official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.

“The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia. CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defense capabilities of any particular country,” the official told reporters on a conference call. “They are instead aimed at imposing costs upon Russia in response to its malign activities.”

The official noted that the sanctions were related to China’s purchase of 10 Russian Sukhoi-35 combat aircraft in 2017, and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018.

The US Congress, which approved CAATSA with almost unanimity, has repeatedly called on the President Donald Trump’s administration to take a tougher stance against Russia.

The imposed sanctions come as the administration is practicing a variety of methods to exert pressure on both China and Russia for allegedly meddling in US affairs.