United States Sanctions Turkey Over S-400 Missile Purchase


The United States is finally sanctioning Turkey over the fellow NATO country’s purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia in 2019, according to a statement released by the US State Department on Monday afternoon.

In the document, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo says: “Today, the United States is imposing sanctions on the Republic of Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) pursuant to Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for knowingly engaging in a significant transaction with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms export entity, by procuring the S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

Pompeo went on to say that the long-awaited sanctions “include a ban on all U.S. export licenses and authorizations to SSB and an asset freeze and visa restrictions on Dr. Ismail Demir, SSB’s president, and other SSB officers.”

The move was long in coming, as viewed by Greece and other nations in the Mediterranean, which have had to deal with continued provocations by Turkey in the past year.

Pompeo stated “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 U.S. military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia’s defense sector, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defense industry.

“Turkey nevertheless decided to move ahead with the procurement and testing of the S-400, despite the availability of alternative, NATO-interoperable systems to meet its defense requirements. This decision resulted in Turkey’s suspension and pending removal from the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter partnership.

“Today’s action sends a clear signal that the United States will fully implement CAATSA Section 231 and will not tolerate significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

“I also urge Turkey to resolve the S-400 problem immediately in coordination with the United States. Turkey is a valued Ally and an important regional security partner for the United States, and we seek to continue our decades-long history of productive defense-sector cooperation by removing the obstacle of Turkey’s S-400 possession as soon as possible.”

Pompeo had recently had harsh words for the US’ fellow NATO member at the recent meeting of foreign ministers of the group, saying uncharacteristically that it was a “destabilizing force” in the Mediterranean region.

Congress hoped to make the issue moot by passing its annual defense bill last Friday, which required the White House to implement the sanctions within 30 days. The bill indeed passed by such an overwhelming majority, far past the 2/3 majority that is required, that it was immune to a presidential veto.

Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s was a clear violation of a sweeping sanctions law passed in the House and Senate in the Summer of 2017 by wide margins in en effort to force Trump to be tougher on Turkey and Russia. The President, who desired to avoid an embarrassing veto override, signed the law against his wishes.

The CAATSA, or Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, targeted Iran, North Korea, and Russia, making sanctions mandatory on any country which made what the bill termed a “significant purchase” of military equipment from Moscow.

In a Tweet published immediately after the sanctions were announced, Secretary of State Pompeo said: “Despite our warnings, Turkey moved ahead with its purchase and testing of the S-400 system from Russia. Today’s sanctions on Turkey’s SSB demonstrates the US will fully implement #CAATSA.”

This is a developing story.