The Trump administration on Monday demanded sanctions on its NATO ally Turkey over its purchase of a Russian air defense system, setting the stage for further confrontation between the two nations as President-elect Joe Biden prepares for office.
The move comes at a delicate time in relations between Washington and Ankara, which have been suspended for more than a year due to Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, along with Turkish actions in Syria, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in the eastern Mediterranean.
The United States has previously expelled Turkey from its F-35 secret fighter development and training program over the purchase, but has not taken further steps despite constant warnings from U.S. officials who have long complained about the purchase of the S-400, which they say is incompatible with NATO equipment and a potential threat to Allied security.
“The United States has clearly expressed to Turkey the highest levels and many times that its purchase of the S-400 system will jeopardize the security of U.S. military technology and personnel and give large funds to the Russian defense sector, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces. and defense industry, ”said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Turkey, however, has decided to move forward with the acquisition and testing of the S-400, despite the availability of alternative, interoperable NATO systems to meet its defense requirements,” he said in a statement.
“I urge Turkey to resolve the S-400 problem immediately in coordination with the United States,” he said. “Turkey is a valued ally and an important regional security partner for the United States, and we aim to continue our decade-long history of productive defense sector cooperation by removing the obstacle of ownership of Turkey’s S-400 as soon as possible.” The sanctions target Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries, the country’s military purchasing agency, its leader Ismail Demir and three other senior officials. The penalties block any assets the four officials may have in U.S. jurisdictions and prevent their entry into the United States. They also include a ban on most export licenses, loans and credits to the agency.
The administration has resisted imposing punitive sanctions outside the combat program for months, in part to give Turkish officials time to consider deploying it and, some suspect, because of President Donald Trump’s personal relationship with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
However, in recent months Turkey has come forward with attempts by the system that have criticized Congress and others that have imposed sanctions under the American Counter-Counter Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, which imposes penalties for transactions deemed detrimental to U.S. interests.
Coming just a month and a half before Biden takes office, the sanctions present a possible dilemma for the incoming administration, although the elected president’s team has signaled that it opposes Turkey’s use of S-400 and the disunity within NATO it. can cause.
Last month, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey was ready to discuss with the United States its “fear” of the interoperability of the S-400 and the F-35. The United States reacted recently to the suggestion and Pompey soon afterwards remarkably did not meet with any Turkish government officials during a visit to Istanbul.
Turkey tested the missile defense system in October for the first time, drawing condemnation from the Pentagon.
Ankara says it was forced to buy the Russian system because the United States refused to sell it U.S.-made Patriot missiles. The Turkish government has also shown what it considers a double standard, as NATO member Greece uses Russian-made missiles. (AP) NSA