U.S. threats to Turkey over S-400 could continue for another year - analysis

Washington has increased its threats to Ankara in recent days as the arrival of the first Russian S-400 missile system has loomed, but another year could pass before the United States takes any real action, said an analysis for Jerusalem Post. 

U.S. officials have repeatedly stated the S-400 is a threat to U.S. military systems and threatened to levy sanctions against Turkey and expel it from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme. Turkish officials have responded that its S-400 buy is a “done deal”. 

In recent months, U.S. officials have reiterated again and again that Turkey will be unable to avoid punishment if it accepts the S-400s, which began arriving this week. 

“So far the U.S. threats are all talk and no action,” Seth Frantzman wrote for Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “But the likely scenario may be more complex.”

S-400 components could begin landing in Turkey, said Frantzman, but then U.S. and Turkish officials could go back and forth for months on whether the system is installed or fully operational, constantly pushing back the U.S. red line. 

“Russia has a habit of sending systems to countries and then waiting a while to have them go online,” Frantzman wrote. 

He pointed to Syria, which received Russian S-300s last October, but the missile system is still not fully operational. In addition, even after the United States does finally levy sanctions against Turkey, President Donald Trump could suspend the sanctions for several months. 

“It could be another year of Turkish-U.S. bragging and threats about the S-400 deal before anything actually happens,” said Frantzman.