Sanctions for weapons: How U.S. punishes Russia and China

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

The United States creates a precedent for imposing sanctions against major buyers of Russian arms and strikes at one of the most developed sectors of the Russian economy, creating favorable prospects for Ukraine
23:37, 25 September 2018

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The United States imposed new sanctions against China in response to the acquisition of modern Russian weapons. We are talking about a deal to supply China with 10 multi-purpose fighters of the 4 ++ generation, as well as 4-6 divisions of the S-400 anti-missile defense systems (8 launch units in one set). The US restrictive measures will concern the Department of Armaments of the Central Military Commission of China and its leader Li Shanfu. Sanctions are imposed in accordance with the "Act on Countering America's Enemies through Sanctions" adopted last year. The US Treasury may impose sanctions against legal entities and individuals of foreign countries that have concluded large contracts with Russia for the supply of weapons or represent their interests. It provides for the freezing of assets of Russian arms buyers in the United States, the deprivation of export licenses and the exclusion from the American financial system. American firms are prohibited from doing business with them.

The Chinese leadership has threatened the American colleagues with negative consequences – they require the lifting of sanctions. By and large, the sanctions are not so critical for China, since the States does not already sell their weapons to this country, the Central Military Council of China does not participate in export operations, the calculations in dollars for Rosoboronexport, which supplies Russian weapons abroad, are terminated. China is more concerned about the high import duties that the United States imposed on a wide range of products. However, the US has its own reasons for imposing sanctions against China in response to the acquisition of Russian weapons.

The US is deterring China's military power

The formal aim of the new sanctions against China is to inflict damage on Russia, which is profiting from the international arms trade. China is the second largest buyer of Russian arms after India. In 2017, China's share in the export of Russian arms was 12%. The US adheres to the selective approach and imposes sanctions only on those countries that buy modern high-precision weapons in Russia capable of putting the US military at risk. Americans do not apply restrictive measures to buyers of Russian Kalashnikov assault rifles, armored vehicles or components to airplanes and tanks.

The true reason for the sanctions is the US desire to drive a wedge into military-technical cooperation between Russia and China in order to slow down the development and strengthening of the military power of the Asian tiger. China is the main competitor of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. One of the priorities of the Politbureau of the People's Republic of China is the modernization of the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA) in order to turn it into a mobile, flexible and modern military force, close in its power to the American army.

China uses Russia as a source of advanced defense technologies, alternative to NATO, which is confirmed by the use of Russian and Soviet prototypes in the production of Chinese weapons. The Kremlin shares its military technologies for the sake of military-political alliance with China as opposed to the United States. Today, both Beijing and Moscow have rather complicated relations with Washington. Both countries are subject to US restrictive measures. More than 260 Russian and Soviet helicopters Mi-171, Mi-17V-5, Ka-31, Ka-28, more than 240 Su-30, Su-35, Su-27, Il-76, Il- 78, Tu-154M/D, Il-18, not counting the various clones are used by People's Liberation Army of China.

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Apparently, the Chinese are buying Russian Su-35 fighters and S-400 anti-missile systems in order to develop their unlicensed analogues and to strengthen air force and anti-missile defense. Russians consider the Su-35 to be the most powerful multipurpose fighter produced outside NATO. The Chinese military can supplement the Su-35 fighter with its new PL-15 air-to-air missiles, which will increase the risk for US tanker aircraft, Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) that support US Air Force operations in the region. The technology of the S-400 system can be used in advanced developments of Chinese anti-aircraft missile and anti-missile systems HQ-29, HQ-26, HQ-19. China has already used the technology of the previous version of the Russian S-300 anti-missile systems when developing the HQ-9 air defense missile system. This product can be used to strengthen China's military presence in the South China Sea. China creates there artificial islands with runways, hangars for airplanes, storage facilities for missiles and firing points for anti-missile and anti-aircraft missile defense systems.

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China is modernizing its navy, which consists of 714 ships, boats, submarines. Since 2010, three new classes of destroyers have been commissioned in China. Starting from 2018, Chinese plan to build 30 frigates, and by 2019-20 to put into operation the second aircraft carrier. Since 2011, Beijing has been modernizing old ships, equipping them with anti-missile defense systems to counter cruise missiles and radars for air targets. In 2014, China began to modernize two Russian destroyers of the "Sovremennyy" class, and in 2015 - a destroyer of the "Type 051B" class of its own design, which is planned to be modernized with a modern HQ-16 anti-missile defense system. China conducts similar activities in the air force. It modernizes the KJ-200 (based on the Soviet An-12 aircraft), which are used for radio detection and guidance, multipurpose J-10 fighters (using the Russian engines), H-6G strategic bombers (based on the Soviet Tu-16 aircraft).

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Chinese Communists are borrowing American experience in developing the defense industry, where private companies carry out military orders. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping became a head of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civil Development, which is carrying out a reform to introduce and expand the use of existing civilian technologies and services in the army. Since 2012, China is working to invite private high-tech firms to the development of the defense-industrial complex, which is owned by the state.

Redistribution of the world arms market

The United States imposed sanctions against China in order to discourage other countries from buying Russian weapons. The US wants to weaken Russia's position in the world arms market. Last year, Rosoboronexport's sales amounted to $ 13 billion, and Russia ranked second among the largest arms dealers, being after the United States. Russian gunsmiths control 22% of the world arms market. In 2017 the Russian Federation exported weapons to 47 countries. The largest buyers of Russian arms are India, China, Vietnam, Venezuela, Iraq. Russia is a serious competitor for American companies in the arms market, since its products are inferior in price, distinguished by reliability, unpretentiousness and simplicity in operation. For authoritarian corrupt regimes it is beneficial to work with Russians. The Kremlin bribes the governments of other countries in the amount of up to 20% of the cost of production only for the fact that they will acquire the Russian weapons, rather than the products of European or American competitors.

With the example of China, the States make it clear that no country in the world is immune from sanctions if it has opted for Russian weapons. America decided to play with Russia on the world arms market without rules, to use sanctions to reduce its competitiveness in response to corruption. US sanctions against China create cause for concern for countries that acquire weapons both from the US and Russia. After all, otherwise they risk losing access to US weapons. In addition to China, the S-400 has recently been purchased by Turkey, which uses American tanks and airplanes. Last year, Russia reached agreements with Myanmar on the purchase of six Su-30SME fighter jets, with India on the delivery of the first batch of 240 corrected KAB-1500L airbags. This year, Russia negotiated with India, Qatar on the possible supply of S-400 complexes, signed contracts with Indonesia to supply 11 Su-35 fighters, with Qatar for the delivery of Kalashnikov assault rifles and grenade launchers. Most likely, the US wants to disrupt these transactions, intimidating Russian customers with possible sanctions.

New opportunities for Ukraine

The practice of pushing out the Rosoboronexport company from the Asian markets can benefit the Ukrainian arms producers. To date, Ukraine's share in the world arms market is less than 2%, although in terms of the defense industry, Ukraine differs little from Russia, inheriting Soviet traditions, design documentation, technology. Ukrainian armored vehicles, military transport aircraft are interchangeable with Soviet and Russian ones. Even if the States warn part of the countries of acquiring Russian weapons, they can switch to Ukrainian products, which are cheaper than American counterparts, and do not differ from Russia in terms of reliability and unpretentiousness.

Asian countries are familiar with Ukrainian products. In 2018, Ukraine delivered 17,000 assault rifles, machine guns, pistols, grenade launchers to Turkey, Mongolia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, closed the contract for the delivery of 49 "Oplot" tanks to Thailand, which was concluded in 2011. Since the 1990s, Ukraine has been supplying tanks and armored vehicles to Pakistan. Over the past three years, Ukraine has supplied engines for aircraft, turbines for ships, and other components worth $ 400 million to China and India. China has created its first aircraft carrier based on the aircraft-carrying cruiser "Riga" inherited from Ukraine. Pivdenmash company has developed operational-tactical complex "Thunder" for Saudi Arabia - an analogue of the Russian OTC Iskander.

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Construction of a plant for the production of Ukrainian aircraft An-132D (capacity 10 units per year) is taking place on the territory of the kingdom. Today, Ukrainian enterprises Iskra, Ukrspetstekhnika, Luch, Vizar, Aerotechnika-MLT are modernizing Soviet anti-missile and anti-aircraft missile defense systems and, with financing and new orders, could develop modern products. Ukraine could become an alternative to Russia in terms of armored vehicles, military transport aircraft and a number of other products on the world arms market.

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