On December 4th, the US Congress included mandatory sanctions on Turkey in the 2021 Defense Budget for its purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system.
The final version of the $740bn annual US defense spending legislation would oblige the White House to select from a list of sanctions over the S-400s, which Washington says are incompatible with NATO operations.
US President Donald Trump who is in his last few weeks in office, vowed to veto the 4,517-page National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, over separate provisions.
He will still need support from Congress, as well as this would be the first veto of the sort in 6 decades.
The bill also includes authorization for the US military to use the six F-35 aircraft that had been accepted by Turkey before the country was expelled from the F-35 programme over the S-400 purchase.
The sanctions aren’t final or imposed at all, but the threat itself sent Turkish lira tumbling down.
Ankara, however, has cause for worry since President-elect Joe Biden is expected to be tougher on Turkey than Trump.
The defence bill includes sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which are designed in part to deter cooperation with Russia.
The US president would select from a list of mild to harsh possible sanctions.
Senate foreign relations committee ranking member Bob Menendez was among lawmakers praising the move.
“Incredibly proud to have helped secure inclusion of a provision in the NDAA to do what President Trump refused to do: Officially determine on behalf of the U.S. [government] that #Turkey took delivery of Russian S-400 defence systems and therefore will be sanctioned under existing law,” the Democrat said in a tweet.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used his final NATO meeting this week to sharply criticise Turkey, saying its purchase of the Russian weapons system was “a gift” to Moscow, five diplomats and officials told Reuters.
For months, the U.S. warned Ankara that it risked sanctions under CAATSA if the S-400 system were activated. Trump, however, has held back on implementing the sanctions amid hopes Erdogan will not go ahead with activating the missiles.
Just days prior to December 4th, prior to this vote, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey wouldn’t be sanctioned over the S-400.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in October, challenged the U.S. to impose sanctions over its involvement in the now-quiet conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
“We stepped in for the F-35, you threatened us,” Erdogan told a televised ruling party congress in the eastern city of Malatya. “You said, ‘Send the S-400s back to Russia.’ We are not a tribal state. We are Turkey.”
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