S-400 purchase might expose Turkey to U.S. sanctions - U.S. official

Turkey's acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems might expose Turkey to U.S. sanctions said an unnamed U.S. administration official in an interview to Turkish press, on Saturday.

The unnamed official said “The U.S. understands Turkey’s desire to improve its air defences. But we are concerned and have said so publicly about a potential acquisition of Russian S-400 missiles, which would have implications for NATO interoperability and which would potentially expose Turkey to sanctions due to the new sanctions law recently passed by Congress,”

Turkey’s purchase of four divisions of S-400 surface-to-air missile divisions, which are incompatible with NATO’s military architecture, for $2.5 billion from Russia has raised concerns among NATO member countries.

The Trump administration signed a bill on Jan. 30th imposing new sanctions on Russian politicians and oligarchs, as part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Several provisions of the act (CAATSA) gives the administration the mandate to sanction and cut off all U.S. arms sales to any country doing business with banned Russian firms, including the one that produces the S-400 defence system.

The official said, “We are also working with Turkey cooperatively. This issue was discussed in Ankara last week, about how we can find better solutions to help Turkey’s air defence needs, which we understand are legitimate,” referring to discussions between U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Turkish officials on Feb. 15th.

The U.S. official, however, said that there were no specific proposals on the table yet: “conversations are taking place,” he said, “Turkey and the U.S. are both active members of the coalition to defeat ISIL. We have the same sets of goals to defeat ISIL, the same sets of goals for a united and stable Syria, and goals about the Geneva-led process. Those core interests are paramount in the U.S.’s works with Turkey in the context of Syria.”