On Monday, the US Treasury slapped sanctions on four Turkish officials and the Presidency of Defence Industries, a federal agency responsible for managing Turkey’s defence industries. The restrictions are related to Ankara’s purchase of the S-400, a Russian-made air defence system.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at Washington over the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) restrictions slapped on his country, suggesting that no other country except Turkey, a NATO ally, has been subjected to such restrictions.
“What kind of alliance is this? What is this based on?” Erdogan fumed, in a televised address from Ankara on Wednesday, calling the restrictions an “open attack against” Turkey’s “sovereignty.”
“Refusing our conditions for the purchase of their [Patriot] air defence systems, the United States used the sanctions weapon because we purchased them elsewhere,” he added.
Warning that sanctions were ‘incompatible’ with the US-Turkish status as allies, Erdogan announced that Turkey’s defence sector would “work two times harder” amid the restrictions, and stressed that Washington ‘will not stop’ Turkey’s efforts.
Erdogan was incorrect in suggesting that CAATSA had never been deployed against any nation except Turkey. In 2018, the US government used the law to target a Chinese defence procurement office and its director for “engaging in significant transactions” with Russia over its transfer of Su-35 fighter jets and S-400-related equipment to the People’s Republic. US officials have also threatened to use CAATSA against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, and against India amid that country’s plans to buy S-400s.
The Turkish president’s remarks follow Monday’s announcement by the Treasury that Turkish officials and the Presidency of Defence Industries had been sanctioned.
Later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement saying that Turkey remains “a valued Ally and an important regional security partner,” and should “resolve the S-400 problem immediately” if it wants the sanctions lifted.
On Tuesday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar announced that the sanctions had “shaken all the values” of the Turkish-US alliance, saying the restrictions “will not only damage the spirit of the alliance,” but “undermine trust among allies.”
Earlier, Ankara also dismissed the US justification for the sanctions – that the S-400 poses a threat to US and NATO aircraft and defence system, suggesting that this was not the case. Turkey, the ministry said, had repeatedly proposed the creation of a technical working group with NATO’s participation to look into the matter, but the proposal fell on deaf ears.
Turkey and Russia penned a contract on the delivery of Russia’s S-400 air defence system in late 2017, with Moscow offering Ankara a generous credit agreement for the purchase. The move led the US to boot the country out of the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet programme, setting back production schedules as the defence giant scrambled to find other suppliers for the roughly 1,000 parts being produced by Turkish companies at the time.