U.S. Representatives introduce sanctions against Turkey over Russia deal

Republican U.S. Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Michael McCaul, and Democratic U.S Representative Abigail Spanberger have introduced legislation to impose sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems, according to a press release by Kinzinger on Friday.

The bill introduced by the representatives, Countering Russia’s Export of Arms Act, “would designate this acquisition by Turkey as a significant transaction pursuant to Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA),” the statement read.

NATO members must uphold principles, duties and obligations of the alliance, Kinzinger said. “Turkey has continued to make questionable decisions that do not reflect leadership of a NATO nation.”

Last year Turkey purchased S-400 systems from Russia, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the country would have liked to purchase the U.S.-made Patriot systems, but that had not been possible. With bipartisan support, the U.S. congress pushed for sanctions against Turkey over CAATSA, but U.S. President Donald Trump halted the efforts at the time. However, Turkey was removed from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme led by the United States.

Turkey received shipment of the S-400s, which the United States maintains are not compatible with NATO systems, and was working on getting the defence system online until the global coronavirus pandemic forced a pause in the operation.

Turkey has ignored warnings by NATO, Kinzinger said, adding:

“We need to make it very clear that their actions will not be tolerated and will be met with serious consequences. Our legislation does that and makes the actions by Turkey an explicitly sanctionable offense.”

Rep. Spanberger called for accountability for Turkey and accusing Russia of “ordering its defence and intelligence agencies to engage in destabilizing and aggressive behaviours against democracies around the world,” the representative said Turkey’s cooperation with Russia had put American security interests at risk, as well as those of NATO.

“A NATO ally purchasing a Russian air defence system is a threat to the United States and to the NATO alliance,” Rep. McCaul said, calling for sanctions “unless and until Turkey takes the steps outlined in this bill to repair the damage this purchase has caused.”

A bill proposed in the U.S. Senate in June sought to allow the United States to purchase the S-400s from Turkey, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said selling the missile defence systems to other countries would not be accepted as appropriate. A spokeswoman for Russia also said Turkey could not re-export the defence systems to another country without Russia's permission.