Bipartisan letter to Blinken calls for sanctions on Algeria after Russia arms deal

A bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter Thursday to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, voicing concerns over Algeria’s growing ties with Russia and calling for sanctions against officials in the Algerian government for an arms deal with Moscow.

The letter, seen by Al Arabiya English and led by Congresswoman Lisa McClain, follows a similar call from Senator Marco Rubio for the Biden administration to issue sanctions against Algeria.

Reports indicated that Algeria signed an arms deal with Russia last year worth more than $7 billion. The deal reportedly would see Russia sell Su-57 fighter jets, air defense systems and more.

Under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which Congress passed in 2017, sanctions are to be imposed against countries that strike defense or intelligence deals with several countries, including Russia.

“This recent Algeria-Russia arms purchase would clearly be categorized as ‘a significant transaction’ under CAATSA. Yet, no sanctions available to you have been crafted by the State Department,” read the letter to Blinken, which 27 members of Congress signed.

The Trump administration issued sanctions, using CAATSA, against Turkey after it went ahead with a deal to acquire Russian S-400 air defense systems.

US lawmakers from both political parties have been pressing the administration to crack down on countries or individuals that engage with Putin and his government, which ordered a further invasion of Ukraine in February.

“The United States needs to send a clear message to the world that the support for Vladimir Putin, and his regime’s barbaric war efforts will not be tolerated,” the letter to Blinken read. “Therefore, we request you begin to immediately implement significant sanctions on those in the Algerian government who were involved in the purchase of Russian arms.”

Thursday’s letter cited Russia’s desperate need for funds to continue its war on Ukraine and the Kremlin’s subsequent efforts to punish the EU’s involvement by blocking natural gas sales to European countries.

Saying that Russia is likely to continue to push for additional arms sales to other countries, the US lawmakers said: “It is critical that President Biden and his administration prepare to sanction those who attempt to fund the Russian government, and its war machine, through the purchase of military equipment.”

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