Washington still mulling sanctions against Turkey over S-400 purchase - VOA

Turkey is still under the risk of U.S. sanctions that can be imposed over its acquisition of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems, the Voice of America reported on Thursday. 

The United States so far has ejected Turkey from the programme to build F-35 jets and halted the delivery of 100 F-35 stealth fighters Ankara purchased, after the delivery of the S-400 systems started in July. Washington is concerned that Turkey’s acquisition of S-400 systems can allow Russia to obtain sensitive information on F-35s, the most advanced jets in the U.S. fleet.

“They are not out of the woods on imposition of sanctions," the VOA quoted State Department Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper as saying to reporters in Washington on Thursday.

Cooper said some of the penalties Turkey faced were mandated by law, including some that could be levied under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The U.S. official said that some in the Turkish government were aware that sanctions were still on the table and wanted to end the problems affecting U.S.-Turkish relations. "Decisions coming out of Ankara are not necessarily reflective of the military institution or the foreign ministry,” Cooper said. 

There is bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress to impose sanctions on Turkey following the delivery of the S-400 systems. U.S. President Donald Trump has the powers to delay or issue a waiver for a country against the U.S. Congress' CAATSA sanctions. However, to do that, Trump must be able to demonstrate that Turkey is reducing its military and intelligence partnership with Russia, experts on the subject say

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly said that Turkey and Russia will jointly produce S-500 air defence systems as a next step of deepening military relations with Moscow. Russia’s state news agency TASS reported last week that Turkish officials have been holding consultations with Russian counterparts on the acquisition of new generation fighter jets as an alternative to U.S.-made F-35s.