‘Ramifications’ likely for Turkish economy as NATO talks on S-400 stutter – Reuters

Talks between Turkish and U.S. officials at NATO headquarters over Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems have not borne results, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The lack of progress means Turkey is increasingly likely to face economic sanctions from the United States once the systems arrive in Turkey, a senior U.S. defence official told Reuters. The delivery is expected as soon as July.

On June 6, Patrick Shanahan, the former acting U.S. defence secretary, sent a letter to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar setting a July 31 deadline for Turkey to back out of the deal with Russia or face expulsion from the new generation F-35 fighter jet programme.

U.S. and NATO officials say the presence of the Russian-built systems on NATO territory could lead to security breaches of the F-35 and other allied hardware.

Shanahan’s successor, Mark Esper, stressed to Akar during closed-door talks on Wednesday that Turkey’s S-400 purchase would also have economic impacts, Reuters reported.

“The secretary was very firm, once again, that Turkey will not have both the S-400 and the F-35. And if they accept the S-400 they should accept ramifications not only to the F-35 program but also to their economic situation”, Reuters quoted its defence official source as saying.

The U.S. Congress is widely expected to pass sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if it goes through with the deal.

Despite frequent warnings from U.S. and NATO officials about the consequences of buying the S-400s, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has insisted the purchase will be finalised.

Erdoğan reiterated his commitment to the deal on Tuesday, leading Enver to tell press once again that the purchase would disqualify Turkey from receiving its consignment of F-35 fighters.

But more worrying for Turkey in the short term is the threat of sanctions, which analysts say could cripple the country’s economy.

Turkey experienced a currency crisis last year after targeted sanctions were placed on two Turkish ministers, triggering a slide in the lira to a record low of 7.2 against the dollar.

With Trump and Erdoğan due to meet this week at the G-20 summit in Osaka, the S-400s will be top of the presidents’ agenda for discussion.

Erdoğan said last week he believed the sanctions threats had come from Trump’s subordinates, and said he had “very different relations” with the U.S. President that could shield Turkey from economic measures.

On Tuesday, Turkey released a U.S. consulate official who had been detained in Turkey on terror charges.

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