U.S. Senate to vote on Turkey sanctions next week

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The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote next week on legislation to slap Turkey with sanctions, the committee's Chairman Jim Risch said on Tuesday.

“We’re going to mark up the Turkey bill next week,” the Hill quoted Risch as telling reporters.

Risch said Turkey has turned down an opportunity to avoid measures for its purchase of Russian-built S-400 missile defence systems and will face sanctions U.S. sanctions soon.

The Idaho senator told Defense News in an interview that he had offered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a way to avoid financial measures over the S-400 purchase during his Washington visit in Nov., but the offer had been ignored.

“On the airplane on the way home, Erdogan told the reporters that he hasn’t given up on the S-400s,” Risch said. “As soon as I saw that, I said: ‘Well, I’m gonna take him at his word.’ And if I’m going to take him at his word, no sense not to run the sanctions bill. So it’s my intent to move ahead with it sooner rather than later.”

NATO officials believe the Russian defence systems could lead to security breaches in the allied defence network, prompting the United States to suspend Turkey from its F-35 fighter jet manufacturing programme after it received the first shipments of S-400s in July.

Turkey also faces sanctions under the Countering American’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, 2017 legislation designed to discourage third parties from buying weapons from Russia, but the White House is yet to implement them.

Risch said U.S. President Donald Trump must go through with the sanctions because “the world’s got to know we’re serious about CAATSA sanctions. You can’t do this [buying S-400 missiles from the Russians].”

“And this is particularly true with a NATO member. [It’s] not compatible with membership in NATO, nor is it compatible for owning F-35s,” he said. “It’s important that the world knows and in particular NATO partners know that we’re serious about this.”

The United States has halted the delivery of the 100 F-35 jets Turkey had ordered, and Risch, whose Foreign Relations Committee is charged with signing off on arms sales to foreign countries, said he had told Erdoğan this would be extended to a ban on all military hardware.