US Might Still Sanction Turkey For Buying S-400 From Russia

By Marcus Weisgerber

September 12, 2019

The United States is still considering levying sanctions on Turkey for buying Russian S-400 air-defense batteries, a top State Department official said Thursday.

R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary for political-military affairs, said the potential new measures would supplement the Trump administration’s decision to kick Turkey out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

They are not out of the woods on imposition of sanctions. That is still at play,” Cooper said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.

The Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, requires the U.S. to sanction Turkey for buying the S-400 from Russia. After the weapons began to arrive in July, the U.S. officials canceled the NATO ally’s F-35 orders and ejected the country from the program. 

What is a constant point of edification for me with all of our partners is, some of our sanctions regimes, including CAATSA, are statutory. We are obligated to address these,” Cooper said. “Turkey is an interesting case because we have a number of partners where we have growing relationships with who are closely watching how Turkey is managed and how they may either seek or choose not to seek acquisition from a near-peer adversary.”

U.S. officials have said that military-to-military relations between Washington and Ankara remain strong. 

Depending on who one talks to in Turkish government, there are those who are acutely aware and sensitive and appreciative that this is not over and are wanting to get back to the way things may have been at a different time and the decisions coming out of Ankara are not necessarily reflective of the military institution or the foreign ministry,” Cooper said.

U.S. defense companies, many of which do business with Turkey, and Wall Street analysts have closely monitoring whether the U.S. imposes the CAATSA sanctions.

We continue to believe this is a major, possibly irreparable, fracture with Turkey, an important NATO ally,” Roman Schweizer, an analyst with Cowen & Company, wrote in an Aug. 1 note to investors. “For multiple reasons, Russia has succeeded in driving a wedge in the alliance. It is not clear to us how the U.S.-Turkey relationship can be mended.”

By Marcus Weisgerber // Marcus Weisgerber is the global business editor for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of Inside the Air Force. He has reported from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and often travels with the defense secretary and other senior military officials.

September 12, 2019