From buyer to partner - China’s changing weapons ties with Russian Federation

Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system

A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia in this undated file

China said Friday it was "outraged" over USA economic sanctions against a Chinese military agency and its director over the purchase of Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missile equipment.

Beijing on Friday told the USA to be ready to "bear the consequences" if Washington didn't remove the sanctions it has imposed on a key Chinese military agency, set up by President Xi Jinping recently, for buying Russian weapons.

Sergei Ryabkov, deputy foreign minister, warned that the US was "playing with fire".

"The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russian Federation".

They block the Chinese agency, and Li, from applying for export licences and participating in the US financial system.

The U.S. thinking is pretty straightforward: By targeting countries that buy Russian weapons, the U.S.is trying to squeeze the money Moscow gets from selling arms: buy from them and you might also be blacklisted.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing has lodged stern complaints with Washington over the action, which triggers a ban on entering the USA, forbids conducting transactions with the US financial system and forces the blocking of all property and interests in property within US jurisdiction.

"We strongly urge the USA side to immediately correct the mistake and rescind the so-called sanctions, otherwise the USA side will necessarily bear responsibility for the consequences", he said, without giving details.

"The imposition of us sanctions will have zero impact on Russian arms sales to China", said Ian Storey, of Singapore's ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.

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The Russians named for CAATSA blacklisting have all been named previously under other U.S. sanctions regimes.

He declined to answer a question whether the United States would be taking similar action against countries, like Turkey, that buy S-400 missile defence system.

"It would be good for them to remember there is such a concept as global stability which they are thoughtlessly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russian-American ties", Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

"Playing with fire is silly, it can become risky", he said in a statement. "It appears that it has become a sort of national pastime there", Ryabkov said. "These measures are in direct response to Russia's aggressive actions towards our country, our allies and our partners".

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the sanctions were "not meant to take down the economy of third-party countries" such as China.

For many years, China was Russia's biggest military client, relying on Moscow for advanced weapons and adapting some of the technology for its own systems.

CAATSA, or the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, was passed in 2017 as a tool that gives the Trump administration more ways to target Russia, Iran and North Korea with economic and political sanctions.

We took these actions because China took delivery of 10 Sukhoi fighter aircraft, specifically Su-25s, in December of 2017, after the CAATSA statute came into force.

"You can be confident that we have spent an enormous amount of time talking about prospective purchases of things such as S-400s and Sukhois with people all around the world who may have been interested in such things and some who may still be", the United States official added.

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