In a regular visit to Washington last month, a senior Turkish opposition figure met with White House officials to talk about bilateral Turkish-American relations. Topics such as Syria and the now-resolved visa crisis were discussed, but another matter was more sensitive than he expected – Turkey's purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system.
Öztürk Yılmaz, the deputy chairman of the Republican People's Party (CHP), told journalists following his meeting that American officials, including Fiona Hill, President Trump's special assistant and senior director for Eurasia on the National Security Council, were seriously troubled by the Russian deal.
Sources in Washington, D.C. told me that the Trump administration was readying sanctions against Turkey over the sale. To solidify their message, a senior White House official told the CHP delegation that they wouldn't just stop with Turkey.
"American officials said they would also have to sanction Saudi Arabia if they go along with the preliminary deal with Moscow over a S-400 sale. They are pretty serious," the source told me.
Americans have repeatedly underlined that it is the Russia sanctions law that forces them to apply pressure on Turkey. The Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, ratified by the U.S. Congress in July, mandates the U.S. president sanction people and companies that transact with Russia's defense sector.
According to the U.S. State Department, the manufacturer of S-400 systems, Almaz-Antey Air and Space Defense Corporation, is among the Russian state companies that people must not deal with.
Turkey and Russia finally acknowledged last week that they have signed a deal for two batteries of S-400 missiles reportedly for $2.5 billion. So to speak, the sanctions might be on Trump's agenda within a very short time. (end of excerpt)
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