U.S. State Dept. warns Turkey of sanctions over S-400 purchase

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday urged Turkey to reconsider its looming purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems, joining a chorus of top U.S. officials in warning that it could lead to U.S. sanctions and place Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 fighter jet program at risk.

“We’ve long made it clear we would like to work collaboratively on air and missile defense with Turkey, and we have offered opportunities for Turkey to consider Patriot (missiles) among other systems,” State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said at a Washington press briefing.

“We’ve also made it clear to Turkey that we have very serious concerns with its stated plans to proceed with the acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. We’ve clearly warned Turkey that its potential acquisition of the S-400 will result in a reassessment of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program and risk other potential future arm transfers to Turkey, as well as lead to potential sanctions,” he added.

Palladino went on to explain that sanctions could be placed on Turkey’s government, private businesses, or individuals. The United States placed sanctions on its NATO ally last year for Ankara’s extended detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson. The sanctions were lifted three months later, after Brunson’s release.

The United States opposes the S-400 deal as the Russian system is incompatible with Western-made NATO systems. Also, Washington fears that if the Turkish military operated both the F-35s and S-400s, it would allow Russia to glean sensitive information about the advanced fighter jets.

Also on Tuesday, the top U.S. general in Europe advised the Senate to cancel the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey if Ankara goes ahead with its purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon told Ahval in a written statement that Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 would have grave consequences.

The State Dept. spokesman also suggested that the United States had received commitments from its allies to join a monitoring force for the proposed safe zone in northern Syria.

“A residual force of the United States military is going to remain in northeast Syria as part of a multinational force in order to prevent ISIS resurgence and to support stability and security in northeast Syria,” said Palladino, who then refused to provide further detail.