The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on its NATO ally Turkey, over its purchase of a Russian air defense system, setting the stage for a further confrontation between the two nations as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office.
The move comes at a delicate time in the relationship between Washington and Ankara, which have been at odds for more than a year over Turkey’s acquisition from Russia of the S-400 missile defense system, along with Turkish actions in Syria, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as the eastern Mediterranean.
The US had previously kicked Turkey out of its F-35 stealth fighter development and training programme over the purchase, but had taken no further steps despite persistent warnings from American officials who have long complained about the purchase of the S-400, which they say is incompatible with NATO equipment and a potential threat to allied security.
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed US concerns about the missile system, even as Washington warned of ‘serious consequences.
The Turkish defense ministry had rejected claims that the S-400 systems would jeopardize NATO systems, adding that Turkey would retaliate in a manner and timing it deems appropriate and urged the US to reconsider what it calls an unfair decision.
The US sanctions target Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries, the country’s military procurement agency, its chief Ismail Demir and three other senior officials.