US had already proposed building a new joint air defense system instead. Two Turkish ministers denied that the purchase would trigger CAATSA action.
Turkey-US sanctions conflict could erupt into a major row in the coming months, as OFAC might impose fines on a Turkish bank or banks mentioned in the Hakan Atilla Iran sanctions trial. The detention of American Consular employees has also infuriated the Congress.
S-400 purchase major problem for USA
The warnings officials disclosed on February 21 to reporters in Washington follow the U.S. State Department’s claim this week that the threat of U.S. sanctions on russia’s defense industry has already cost Moscow some $3 billion in lost military sales.
The senior U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a couple of “big countries” were reconsidering defense purchases from russia as a result of the global warning sent out by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration following its publication of a list of russian defense and intelligence agencies and companies targeted by U.S. sanctions.
The officials confirmed that Turkey, which is negotiating the purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from russia, is one of the countries that received the warning. Turkey has said it is also looking at alternative systems to purchase from NATO allies. (Source: Radio Free Europe)
Daily SABAH: Government not concerned
Daily SABAH, a newspaper known to be close to AKP’s view retorted to this report with the following by-line:
“When the U.S. includes the company selling the S-400 system within the scope of sanctions, there is a possibility that Turkey might indirectly affected by this. However, they cannot impose a direct sanction against Turkey,” Fikri Işık, deputy prime minister said in relation to the issue.
Commenting on the issue, [Foreing Minister] Çavuşoğlu said that “Turkey urgently needs an air defense system. We want to buy from our allies but it failed.” He stressed that Turkey had to look for other alternatives to meet its needs and added that Turkey has no problems with its allies. Çavuşoğlu stated that the members of the commission working on the issue need to understand each other well.
Sanctions row could undermine an already strained relationship
There are several areas where US authorities are reported to be contemplating sanctions against Turkey. The conviction of former Halkbank executive Mr. Hakan Atilla on charges of violating sanctions on Iran could potentially trigger fines against Halkbank, or other state banks mentioned in the indictment. OFAC has been screening through Halkbank records in the bank’s headquarters, but is yet to issue a statement about findings. According to Turkish sources still following the trial, new sealed documents submitted to the court could indicate additional indictments for Turkish names or entities.
There are also several hints from SeNATOrs and Congressmen that Turkey’s arrest of two American Consular employees (Turkish nationals) and the house arrest of third violate the Magnitsky Act thus deserving sanctions.
Finely, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, “An Iranian airline under sanctions by the U.S. for ferrying weapons and fighters into syria repeatedly bought U.S.-made jet engines and parts through Turkish front companies over the past several years, most recently in December, federal investigators said in a new U.S. Government filing.
The U.S. says in the filing that a Turkish woman set up a series of shell companies to buy needed equipment from U.S. suppliers for Iran’s Mahan Air, helping the airline circumvent the longstanding sanctions and fueling suspicions about Iran within the Trump administration”.
Turkish experts claim that White House is divided on the wisdom of slapping sanctions on a key ally whose cooperation is critical in syria. On the other hand, the fury against Turkey has reached the dimensions of a “tsunami” commented an experienced Washington correspondent.