Disrespect: Erdogan Slams Possible US Measures Over S-400s Amid Reports That Sanctions Are Imminent
Tim Korso. Sputnik International
12:05 GMT 11.12.2020
The US has long threatened Turkey with economic measures over its purchase of Russian air defence systems, demanding Ankara ditch them. Turkey, however, has vehemently refused to do so, calling the purchase its sovereign right to improve the country's defences. Washington so far has failed to make good on its threats.
The US might soon impose economic sanctions on Turkey for its acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems after threatening to do so under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for over a year, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal separately reported citing anonymous sources. The measures are expected to be announced on 11 December, Reuters' sources claimed.
According to Reuters' report, the sanctions will target Turkey's Presidency of Defence Industries and its chief, Ismail Demir, instead of hurting the country's economy on a larger scale. The sanctions have already reportedly been included in the US Defence Authorisation Bill - a crucial annual piece of legislation expected to be approved in the near future â€“ but will ultimately be imposed on US President Donald Trump's orders.
Reuters' sources claim that Trump long opposed imposing sanctions on Turkey, but changed his mind to "decouple" the issue from the defence authorisation bill. This way the move will not look as if it is being forced upon POTUS by Congress, the sources claim.
The reported upcoming sanctions are unlikely to have any positive effect on the US-Turkish relations, an anonymous senior Turkish official told Reuters. On the contrary, the sanctions are bound to backfire and spoil relations between the two NATO allies.
"Sanctions would not achieve a result but be counter-productive. They would harm relations. Turkey is in favour of solving these problems with diplomacy and negotiations. We won't accept one-sided impositions", an anonymous Turkish official said.
It is unclear how much the sanctions will affect US foreign policy if Joe Biden successfully wins the Electoral College vote in December and assumes the presidency in January In the past, Ankara said it would monitor the actions of the projected Biden administration, but noted that it was ready to cooperate with any president to resolve the conflict over the Russian defence system diplomatically.
The reports come as the EU is discussing its own measures in concerning Turkey, although they are unrelated to the S-400 issue. Brussels is currently seeking a way to dissuade Ankara from continuing its survey and drilling operations in the eastern Mediterranean in the off-shore waters of Cyprus, which Turkey regards as its own Exclusive Economic Zone.
The European Council said in a statement released on 11 December that it will be coordinating its actions, when it comes to Turkey, including on the issue of the eastern Mediterranean dispute.
"The EU will seek to coordinate on matters relating to Turkey and the situation in the eastern Mediterranean with the United States", Brussels' statement read.
The EU also announced the first set of limited sanctions against Turkish citizens related to the country's energy exploration efforts near Cyprus. Brussels intends to review and possibly extend them in March, when member states discuss the matter again. Turkey condemned the introduction of sanctions and accused Brussels of exercising bias against Ankara in terms of Mediterranean drilling rights.
Turkish President Slams Reportedly Looming Sanctions as 'Disrespect'
While the imminent introduction of US sanctions against Turkey is yet to be officially confirmed, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already condemned such a possibility, reminding Washington that Ankara is its ally.
"While [the US administrations] say with pride 'we have a NATO country like Turkey', for them to now stand up and confront Turkey with CAATSA, once more it's disrespect to a very important NATO partner", Erdogan said.
Erdogan has repeatedly dismissed Washington's demands to scrap the deal with Russia to purchase S-400 air defence systems. The president called the deal a sovereign matter for Turkey, which only sought to boost its defences after the US stalled a deal to sell Patriots to Ankara.
The US claims the Russian systems are incompatible with the NATO defence grid, despite having no problems with Greece installing S-300 systems years earlier. Washington also alleged that the Russian systems can reveal weaknesses in the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet and because of this froze deliveries of the jets ordered and paid for by Turkey. After the S-400s were delivered to Turkey last summer, Washington started threatening Ankara with sanctions should it deploy or even activate the systems, suggesting it should ditch or sell them instead. So far, the White House has not followed up on its threats.
Turkey has on a multitude of occasions offered to hold negotiations with the US to iron out disagreements and come up with a solution to the conflict over the S-400s, but strongly refused to discard the Russian systems. Ankara even suggested creating a joint group with US specialists to resolve any of Washington's concerns regarding the Russian weapon, but the US ignored these calls.
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