Nov 26, 2020 19:26 UTC
  •  Turkey says does not expect US sanctions over S-400 missile systems under Biden

A high-ranking official from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) says Ankara does not anticipate Washington’s sanctions over its purchase of Russian-made S-400 defense missile systems after US president-elect Joe Biden takes office.

“The US president will most likely watch the balance in the region very carefully for US interests, and will not want to continue the tense ties with Turkey ... I believe they will take positive steps in the future,” AK Party Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmus said in an interview with Reuters news agency on Thursday.

Kurtulmus highlighted that Turkey would not bow to pressure to return the Russian missile systems, or leave them unused.

“Sorry, but we didn't procure these to hide them. We got them to meet Turkey's security needs,” he said.

Late last month, a US State Department official warned that Turkey faces a “very real” risk of sanctions after Ankara tested its Russian-made S-400 air defense system.

“That risk is very real because they... continue to pursue the S-400,” R Clarke Cooper, a senior State Department official in charge of arms sales, said on October 28.

He added, “And, of course, with the testing of it, sanctions is very much something that is on the table.”

Earlier, Turkey conducted its first test of the S-400 system in the town of Sinop, which lies on the northernmost edge of the Black Sea coast. The test came despite months of warnings from the US that the system is incompatible with NATO defenses, and could pose a threat to Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets.

There are speculations of US sanctions early next year if Congress approves a defense spending bill, which the House of Representatives has already voted to include language requiring the president to sanction Turkey.