American senators warned Turkey they would extend new sanctions if the country goes ahead with plans to purchase a new round of Russian-made air defense systems.
The warning came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week said they still intended to acquire a new batch of S-400 defense systems, despite Washington’s opposition.
Erdoğan is due to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday, a meeting that is expected to see the two countries reach some important decisions.
Talks are continuing between Russia and Turkey about the delivery of a second batch and the two countries are in the process of signing a new deal in the near future, Alexander Mikheyev, the head of Russia’s state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport, said in August.
“Nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country, at what level,” Erdoğan told CBS News in an interview last week, saying that Ankara intends to proceed with the purchase of the Russian systems.
The office of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Robert Menendez said last Wednesday that sanctions were mandated by law for “any entity that does significant business with the Russian military or intelligence sectors.”
“Any new purchases by Turkey must mean new sanctions,” Menendez said on Twitter.
U.S. officials on Sunday called on Turkey to refrain from buying additional Russian arms, saying the move, which could deepen a rift between the two NATO allies, could trigger new U.S. sanctions.
“We continue to make clear to Turkey that any significant new Russian arms purchases would risk triggering CAATSA 231 sanctions separate from and in addition to those imposed in December 2020,” a State Department spokesperson said, referring to the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
The spokesperson also said the United States regards Turkey as an ally and friend and seeks ways to strengthen their partnership “even when we disagree.”
Turkey’s initial purchase of S-400s strained ties with the U.S. and triggered penalties.
The move prompted Washington to remove Turkey from the new generation F-35 Lightning II jet program before it then imposed sanctions on the country’s Defense Industry Presidency (SSB), its chief, Ismail Demir, and three other employees in December
The U.S. argued that the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets and that it is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey, however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Erdoğan explained that Turkey was not given the option to buy American-made Patriot missiles and that the U.S. had not delivered F-35 stealth fighter jets despite a payment of $1.4 billion.