US dangles threat of sanctions against Turkey over planned delivery of more S-400s
US State Department spokesman Ned Price yesterday warned Turkey of the prospect of sanctions if Ankara goes ahead with receiving a second batch of Russian S-400 missile systems - a move which was announced by Russia's state-run Tass news agency and confirmed by the Turkish defence ministry - which were included in the initial procurement deal, but he did not say if Washington's intends to go forward with the sail of F-15 fighter planes to Turkey, which has been met with significant opposition in Congress.
Turkey is the only NATO member that buys arms from Moscow and continues to refuse to impose any sanctions whatsoever on Russia.
"The point we have consistently made across the board is that Russia's brutal and unjustified war against Ukraine makes it vital, now more than ever in some ways, that all countries avoid transactions with Russia's defense sector. It puts them at risk of sanctions," Price said in response to a journalist's question.
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Moscow has also said that it has reached agreement with Ankara for the production of certain components of the S-400 missile systems in Turkey.
In an apparent bid to leave some diplomatic leeway for further discussion of the procurement decision with Ankara, Price intimated that the delivery of the new batch may not necessarily be a done deal.
Asked if the delivery of the second regiment of S-400s will "change the calculus" on the F-16 sale, the spokesman said it is up to Ankara to clarify its intentions.
"Well, of course, we'll have to wait and see what happens, but we are not aware of any new developments on this matter and so would refer you to Turkish authorities for the time being to speak to their plans."