US sanctions Turkey over purchase of Russian missile defense system

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The United States is imposing sanctions on NATO-ally Turkey’s military procurement agency as punishment for its purchase of a Russian-made missile defense system, The Washington Post reported on Monday, citing the Trump administration.

Mandated under a 2017 law, sanctions are stipulated against any country that purchases “significant” material from Russia’s defense industry.

The move by Washington came after Congress last week passed the defense funding bill, which includes a provision ordering that the sanctions be imposed within 30 days.

The sanctions include a ban on all US export licenses and authorizations to Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries as well as asset freezes and visa restrictions against the organization’s president and three other senior officials.

Lawmakers of both parties had criticized the administration for failing to implement the sanctions following Turkey’s $2.5 billion purchase of the system in 2019, inaction that some charged was due to President Donald Trump’s close relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“The United States made clear to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that its purchase of the S-400 system would endanger the security of US military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia’s defense sector,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Erdoğan’s government has maintained that offers to sell Turkey the US Patriot missile defense system were unacceptable in terms of timing and price and a US refusal to include technology transfers.

In his statement Pompeo urged Turkey “to resolve the S-400 problem immediately in coordination with the United States.”

Turkey, he said, remains “a valued ally and an important regional security partner for the United States.”

Turkey and the US have been at odds since Ankara’s procurement of the Russian S-400s as they are incompatible with NATO systems.

In 2019 the White House removed Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program over concerns that Ankara’s decision to enter a missile defense relationship with Moscow would compromise the security of the program’s sensitive cutting-edge technology.

US senators have repeatedly urged President Donald Trump to impose harsh sanctions on Turkey; however, the president has taken a softer approach to Turkish President Erdoğan, according to former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who wrote a book on Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders.

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