The United States has warned of new sanctions on Turkey in addition to ones already in place in the event of “any significant new Russian arms purchases” following a statement from the country’s president, who said Turkey intends to buy a second batch of S-400 missile defense systems.
Turkey’s purchase of the Russian missile defense system, which Washington says is a threat to the Western alliance, was one of the issues President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was asked about during an interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” aired on Sunday.
Ahead of a visit to Russia on Wednesday, Erdoğan indicated in the CBS interview that Turkey would go ahead with a second purchase from Moscow.
“In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country at what level,” Erdoğan said in response to questions about Turkey’s future intentions.
When asked about Erdoğan’s comments by Reuters, a US State Department spokesperson said, “We urge Turkey at every level and opportunity not to retain the S-400 system and to refrain from purchasing any additional Russian military equipment.”
The spokesperson noted that the US continues to make clear to Turkey that any significant new Russian arms purchases would risk triggering CAATSA 231 sanctions separate from and in addition to those imposed in December 2020, referring to the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
The spokesperson also said the US regards Turkey as an ally and friend and seeks ways to strengthen their partnership “even when we disagree.”
Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and NATO’s broader defense systems. Turkey rejects this and says the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO.
Washington imposed sanctions in December on Turkey’s military procurement agency as punishment for its purchase of the Russian-made missile defense system under CAATSA, which mandates penalties for transactions deemed harmful to US interests.
Turkey’s Presidency of the Defense Industry (SSB), its chief İsmail Demir and three other officials were targeted by the sanctions, which include a ban on all US export licenses and authorizations to SSB as well as asset freezes and visa restrictions on Demir and the other individuals.
The US had also previously removed Turkey from its F-35 stealth fighter development and training program over the S-400 purchase.