Mar 31 2018

S-400 sanctions threat grows as U.S. officials visit Ankara for defence talks

Turkey will face sanctions over its deal to buy the Russian S-400 air defence system, according to Turkish daily Evrensel.

The report comes as U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Tina Kaidanow, who heads the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the State Department, was in Ankara to attend the 5th gathering of Turkey - U.S. Defence Trade Dialogue, following a 2-year hiatus

Top of the agenda was an offer to sell Turkey the Patriot missile system as an alternative to the S-400. Previous negotiations over Patriots have stalled over issues such as the price and technology transfer.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said last week that Turkish efforts to buy the Patriot system would continue, but added, “These are not an alternative to the S-400. Turkey has already made its S-400 decision." 

However, since the Turkish deal to buy S-400s, the U.S. Congress has adopted laws that could see Turkey facing sanctions over the deal. Russia has meanwhile accelerated efforts to deliver S-400s to Turkey.

In discussing the Ankara talks, Evrensel reports that a U.S. official struck a positive message over sales of F-35 fighter jets and other military equipment, but called for the abandonment of the S-400 deal, stressing that it was contrary to commitments made by Turkey at a NATO summit in Warsaw in 2016.

The official also said that any potential Turkish purchase of Patriot missiles could not go though so long as the S-400 deal remained standing, saying, "We understand the desire to strengthen Turkey's air defence. But in doing so, all NATO nations need to use equipment compatible with NATO systems. A Russian system will not provide this standard,” adding, “We have stressed our concerns over the many interviews we have done with Turkish government officials.”