The United States has made it clear to Turkey that the purchase of S-400 air defense systems from Russia will have consequences, US Deputy Secretary of State Wess Mitchell claimed on Tuesday.
“We have been clear with the Turkish authorities, if they decide to move forward with the purchase of the S-400, there will be consequences,” Mitchell said during an event at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
In December, Russia and Turkey signed a loan agreement for the supply of S-400 air defense systems to Ankara. At the end of April, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey is also considering buying the US-made Patriot missile defense system or other air defense systems, Caspo has in its favor fair offers of its NATO allies.
Speaking about possible legal repercussions of the purchase of the S-400 systems, Mitchell referred to the 2017 Sanctions Constraint of Opponents of America Act (CAATSA) and said that the United States will follow through with this law.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also stated that the United States has been trying to discourage Turkey from closer contacts with the Russian defense sector, which has been a target of US sanctions.
Mitchell emphasized that the relationship between the United States and Turkey is complex because Ankara has been a long-term NATO ally, a vital partner in the US’ supposed anti-terrorism operations, and a participant in the Geneva process for resolving the conflict in Syria.
The US’ approach to Turkey has always been to address the country’s legitimate national security concerns, Mitchell claimed, but on a number of issues Ankara has not responded with “reasonable solutions”.
The US strategy towards Turkey can be seen as a “balancing act” in which the main objective is to keep Ankara strategically and politically aligned with the West. However, Turkey and Russia have been strengthening their ties at the expense of Washington since the July 2016 “coup”. While Turkey officially remains a NATO member, a US ally, and a highly controversial player in the war in Syria, increasingly bellicose US pressure on Turkey might swing the balance towards pushing Ankara in Moscow’s direction.
The purchase of S-400s from Russia is one point of tension over which Ankara’s future allegiances might be decided, with all the consequences.