The US has advised Turkey not to deploy Russian S-400 systems under the threat of more sanctions, even though the White House has been cautious about punishing its NATO ally which could respond by closing its bases to US troops.
“There could be more sanctions to follow but frankly what we’d really like is for the S-400 not to become operational,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with Bloomberg. The US has been pressuring Turkey to back out of the arms deal with Russia for months, threatening to punish its ally for disobedience under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act.
In response to the first deliveries of Russian hardware, the US has formally expelled Turkey from the F-35 program, in which Ankara invested around $1.25 billion, and it remains an open question whether any of it will be reimbursed. At the same time, despite all talk of crippling sanctions, the White House has been reluctant to adopt a full-blown response. “There is no timetable [for new sanctions],” the State Department stressed as President Donald Trump seeks more “flexibility” in his response.
Turkey is meanwhile drafting counter-sanctions plans, which in the worst case scenario could see US forces expelled from Turkish air force bases that Washington depends on to project its influence in the region, especially in Iraq and Syria. “We are currently running the process, whether it’s Incirlik, Kurecik or other issues,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
If America has very negative steps toward us, if there are sanctions or further steps, we will have answers to America.
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