The Trump administration on Monday imposed sanctions on Turkey, its NATO ally, for acquiring a Russian air defense system, setting the stage for a further confrontation between the two nations as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to step down.
The move comes at a delicate time in relations between Washington and Ankara, which have been in conflict for more than a year over Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, along with Turkish actions in Syria, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the eastern Mediterranean.
The US had previously expelled Turkey from its F-35 stealth fighter development and training program following the acquisition, but had taken no further action despite persistent warnings from US officials who had long complained about buying the S-400, which they say it is incompatible with NATO equipment and a potential threat to Allied security.
“The United States has clarified to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that the acquisition of the S-400 system would jeopardize the security of US technology and military personnel and provide substantial funding to Russia’s defense sector and Russian access to the Turkish armed forces. and the defense industry, “said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“However, Turkey has decided to move forward with the acquisition and testing of the S-400, despite the availability of NATO interoperable systems to meet its defense requirements,” he said in a statement.
“I urge Turkey to resolve the S-400 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 are trying to continue our history of decades of productive cooperation in the defense sector, removing the obstacle to Turkey’s S-400 possession as soon as possible.” The sanctions target the Turkish presidency of the defense industries, the country’s military procurement agency, its head Ismail Demir and three other senior officials. The sanctions block any assets that the four officials may have in US 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 suspended months of imposing punitive sanctions outside the fighting program, in part to give Turkish officials time to reconsider its implementation and, some suspects, because of President Donald Trump’s personal relationship with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
However, in recent months, Turkey has gone further with testing the system, drawing criticism from Congress and others who have called for sanctions imposed under the US Anti-Penalty Act or CAATSA, which imposes sanctions on transactions. considered detrimental to US interests.
Coming just a month and a half before Biden took office, sanctions are a potential dilemma for the new administration, although the president-elect’s team has signaled opposition to Turkey’s use of the S-400 and NATO disenfranchisement.
Last month, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey was ready to discuss with the US its “anxiety” over the interoperability of the S-400 and F-35 models. The United States reacted coldly to this suggestion, and Pompeo soon met with Turkish government officials visiting Istanbul.
Turkey tested its missile defense system for the first time in October, attracting condemnation from the Pentagon.
Ankara says it was forced to buy the Russian system because the US refused to sell it American-made Patriot missiles. The Turkish government has also stressed what it considers to be a double standard, as Greece, a NATO member, uses missiles made in Russia. (AP) NSA