Earlier this month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slammed Washington for “creating artificial crises is the West’s style,” referring to the Senate’s move to block F-35 supplies over Ankara’s intention to buy Russia’s S-400 air defense systems.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell said Tuesday that it would be hard to restore relations between the US and Turkey if the latter purchased Russia’s S-400 air defense systems.
“We made it clear that is Turkey buys S-400s… there will be consequences. We will introduce sanctions within Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA),” Mitchell told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The official further noted that the US maintained the ability to withhold the transfer of F-35 combat aircraft to Turkey over national security concerns if Ankara decided to purchase the S-400s.
“We believe that we have the existing legal authorities that would allow us to withhold transfer under certain circumstances, including national security concerns,” Mitchell told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Prospects for Turkish military-industrial cooperation with the United States would also be in jeopardy if the S-400 air defense systems are purchased, Mitchell added.
In April, Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport’s director general said that Russia had started manufacturing S-400 systems for Turkey.
The Russia-Turkey deal has prompted disagreements between Ankara and Washington, with the latter threatening to impose sanctions against the former, as the United States believes that the weapon is incompatible with NATO’s defenses.