Turkey could face US sanctions if it goes ahead with plans to purchase S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, and it can also affect Ankara’s participation in the F-35 program, Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
"Ankara should be mindful of the risks in making strategic concessions to Moscow in order to achieve its tactical objectives in Syria. Ankara claims to have agreed to purchase the Russian S-400 missile system, which could potentially lead to sanctions under section 231 of CAATSA and adversely impact Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program," Mitchell said in his prepared remarks.
On March 17, a group of US lawmakers, led by Senator Bob Menendez, told the State Department that any sale of Russian S-400 air defense systems — including to Turkey — should lead to punitive measures under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
However, Turkey's Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said Ankara's purchase of Russia's S-400 air defense systems has no impact on the deliveries of US F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
Ankara and Washington are in talks over the procurement of the Patriot missile system.
The United States intends to encourage Turkish AKP government to become more actively involved in the Geneva process for Syria, Mitchell also said.
"It is in the American national interest to see Turkey remain strategically and politically aligned with the West, and we believe it is also in Turkey’s interests. Our policy has been to combine close engagement with clear messaging that the United States will actively defend its interests. In the context of Syria, we have engaged in high-level interagency discussions, both to address legitimate Turkish security concerns and to avoid inadvertent collisions between our forces. These conversations are ongoing. Moving forward, our aim is to enlist Turkey as a more active ally in supporting the Geneva process, the defeat of ISIS and lasting stabilization in Syria, as well as a long-term factor in thwarting expansion by Russia and Iran, as outlined in the National Security and National Defense Strategies."