A truck carrying parts for the S-400 air defense system is seen at Myut military Airport outside Ankara, Turkey, in 2019.
On Monday, December 14, the United States announced it was imposing sanctions on Turkey’s Defense Industry Agency, which is in charge of government arms procurement, to punish Ankara for its purchase of the Russian missile defense system S-400, under the sanctions against The Enemy of the United States Act.
These are unusually tough U.S. sanctions against a NATO ally, but they remain short of tougher measures such as those that would affect Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally or hit Turkey’s financial system.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that “today’s decision underscores that the United States will not tolerate significant defense and intelligence deals with Russia.”
Under the sanctions Against The Enemy of the United States Act, which was overwhelmingly passed by Congress in 2017, the United States government suspended all permits and loans for arms exports to Turkey’s Defense Industry Agency, and imposed economic sanctions on individuals such as Igor Demir, chairman of Turkey’s Defense Industry Agency, from entering the United States or owning assets in the United States. On Friday, the United States approved a draft that includes sanctions against Turkey for buying the Russian missile defense s-400, which is incompatible with the NATO system. In fact, U.S. sanctions have hovered over Turkey since the missile delivery last year, but U.S. President Donald Trump has not activated them. On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave an early warning that if U.S. sanctions against Turkey were lifted, “it would be disrespectful to the United States for its very important NATO ally.”
However, Pompeo noted that “While there are other options compatible with NATO systems to meet defense needs, Turkey has decided to purchase and test the S-400.” “The United States has repeatedly informed Turkey at the highest levels that the acquisition of the S-400 system would pose a major threat to the security of U.S. technology and military personnel, provide significant funding to the Russian defense industry, and give Russia access to penetration points of the Turkish defense industry and military,” he said. The US had already excluded Turkey from joint development of the F-35.
The Turkish foreign Ministry called the US sanctions unfair and urged the US to reconsider, saying “Turkey is committed to resolving the issue through dialogue and diplomacy in the spirit of alliance”. Russia’s foreign ministry said the sanctions against Turkey were another example of “the United States using illegal, unilateral, coercive measures and arrogance towards international law.”