White House official says Turkey should ‘get rid’ of Russian missiles or face US sanctions

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Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile launching system is displayed at the exposition field in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow on August 22, 2017 during the first day of the International Military-Technical Forum Army-2017. / AFP PHOTO / Alexander NEMENOV

The United States is very upset about Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system and could impose sanctions on Ankara if it does not “get rid” of it, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

“Turkey will feel the impact of those sanctions,” O’Brien told CBS’s “Face the Nation” in an interview, referring to penalties under the US law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which he said would pass Congress with “overwhelming” bipartisan support.

His comments came ahead of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Washington on Nov. 13 to meet with US President Donald Trump for likely crucial talks as the two NATO allies have been at loggerheads over a range of issues.

One key disagreement is Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, which Washington says is incompatible with NATO defenses and threatens its Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.

Despite threats of US sanctions, Turkey started receiving its first S-400 deliveries in July.

In response Washington removed Turkey from the F-35 program, in which Ankara was a manufacturer and buyer. But so far, it has not slapped any sanctions on Ankara.

Turkey has not yet activated the S-400 batteries it received, and Washington still hopes to persuade its ally to “walk away” from the Russian systems.

“There’s no place in NATO for the S-400. There’s no place in NATO for significant Russian military purchases. That’s a message that the president will deliver to him [Erdoğan] very clearly when he’s here,” O’Brien said.

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