In 2017, Russia and Turkey agreed on a $2.5 billion contract for Ankara to purchase S-400 air defence missiles from Moscow. In July 2019, Turkey went on with the acquisition despite US sanctions that prohibited any “significant purchase” of Russian defence equipment.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has “strongly condemned” US sanctions against Turkey in relation to the purchase of S-400 defence missiles from Russia.
“The US addiction to sanctions and contempt for international law, on full display again,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
The minister added that Iran would “stand” with the Turkish people and government in relation to US pressures, while accompanying the tweet with #NeighborsFirst hashtag.
U.S. addiction to sanctions and contempt for international law at full display again.
We strongly condemn recent U.S. sanctions against Turkey and stand with its people and government.#NeighborsFirst
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 15, 2020
Iran has itself been a common target of US sanctions, including an arms embargo and economic blockage, that were imposed in response to Tehran’s political ties and nuclear programme.
US Slaps Sanctions on Turkey
On Monday, the US Treasury introduced sanctions on four Turkish officials, the country’s government and the presidency of Defense Industries – Turkey’s defence procurement agency. The measures came as a response to Ankara’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system in July last year.
The procurement has violated US sanctions law, The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), that was passed in 2017 targeting Russia, North Korea and Iran and effectively forbidding any country from making a “significant purchase” of intelligence or defense equipment from Moscow under threat of punishment.
Turkey and Russia still went on with the transaction, provoking ire from Washington.
After the sanctions to punish Ankara for its move were announced, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the measure sent “a clear signal that the United States will fully implement CAATSA Section 231 and will not tolerate significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors”.
Pompeo, however, added that Turkey still remained a “valued Ally and an important regional security partner” for the US.
According to the US Secretary of State, the $2.5 billion-purchase “would would endanger the security of US military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia’s defence sector, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defence industry”.
Ankara and Moscow Respond
Turkey has condemned the sanctions, with the country’s Foreign Ministry vowing to “take the necessary steps against this decision” which it said “will inevitably have a negative impact” on relations between the two states.
“Turkey will not refrain from taking measures it considers necessary to ensure its national security,” the ministry said in a Monday statement, adding that Washington’s “security” pretext for the sanctions was baseless.
From his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Washington’s move was “another manifestation of an arrogant attitude towards international law” and a “manifestation of illegitimate, unilateral coercive measures” that the country has been resorting to for years.
A deal between Russia and Turkey for the sale of S-400 defence systems was penned in 2017; the decision was followed with an outcry from Washington and the threat of sanctions.
The US also immediately kicked Turkey out of its F-35 prorgamme for the development of America’s all-weather stealth combat aircraft, citing concerns that the purchase has jeopardised Ankara’s role in the project. Turkey could not agree with these arguments.