New US sanctions target multi-billion dollar Russian defense sector

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has taken further action targeting Russia’s defense industry, announcing sanctions on Wednesday that could affect not just Russia, but also countries that depend on its military hardware.

The measures, triggered by Moscow’s war on Ukraine, target both Russia and its ally Belarus, which has been a staging ground for the invasion. The White House said sanctions against Russia’s defense industry “would impose significant costs on Russian weapons development and production companies.”

Russia is the world’s second-largest arms exporter after the United States, averaging more than $13 billion in reported annual sales, according to the Congressional Research Service. On Wednesday, a US State Department official told lawmakers that Russia was unlikely to be able to secure new sales or service customers for existing systems.

“I think it will be very difficult for anyone to buy major weapons systems from Moscow in the months and years to come, given the sweeping financial sanctions that the administration, with the support of Congress, has imposed. “, said Donald Lu, deputy secretary. of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, a Senate foreign relations subcommittee said.

“If you don’t have a banking system, it’s very difficult for other countries to pay millions of dollars, rubles, yen or euros to pay for these defense systems,” Lu said.

Russia exports the majority of its arms to five states: Algeria, China, Egypt, India and Vietnam. India has been the biggest importer of Russian weapons since 2016.

The comments came during a hearing on US relations with India, which weaned itself off Russian military equipment but signed a multibillion-dollar deal for Russian missile systems S -400 Triumfs in 2018.

As the United States strengthens ties with India as a key regional counterweight to China, the Biden administration has delayed enforcement of a law ordering sanctions on any country trading with Russian defense sectors and intelligence.

Lu noted that India had recently canceled orders for Russian MiG-29 fighter jets, helicopters and anti-tank weapons, and he predicted the new sanctions would spur other countries to do the same.

“I think many countries that have these legacy Russian systems will be worried – not only worried about buying fancy new systems like the S-400, but we’re just talking about ammunition, spare parts, basic supplies for the Russian legacy systems they already have.”

India drew criticism from Republicans and Democrats at the hearing because India was among 35 nations that abstained on Wednesday in a UN vote to rebuke Russia’s invasion.

Among Biden administration actions on Wednesday, State Department sanctions target 22 Russian entities that manufacture fighter jets, infantry fighting vehicles, electronic warfare systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles for the Russian army.

Commerce Department export controls target oil and gas extraction equipment as well as entities that have supported Russian and Belarusian security forces or their research and development efforts. The intention is to block the Russian aerospace, maritime and technology sectors from American products to support Russian innovation.

“This action will help prevent the diversion of items, technology and software through Belarus to Russia and will significantly degrade the ability of both countries to maintain military aggression and project power,” the White House said.

The United States also officially imposed the sanction announced by President Joe Biden on Tuesday to block Russian planes of all kinds in American airspace, a measure also taken by much of Europe.

Joe Gould is a senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.

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