US Sanctions Turkey Over Military Relations with Russia

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced that the US would be introducing sanctions against the Turkish military industrial complex. This effectively cuts off Turkey from US military hardware, technology and financial institutions. Turkey’s military procurement agency president, Ismail Demir, is not allowed to travel or hold any assets in the US.
As this situation continues to develop it is still unknown what the economic impact of the decision will be for both countries. It has been estimated that it could impact contracts worth between $1.5 billion to $2.2 billion, allotting for around 5% of US-Turkish trade.

The decision made under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) over the purchase of the S-400 Anti-Air Missile System from the Russian Federation by Turkey. This decision ignited the removal of Turkey from the partnership in the F-35 Lightning II project.

In a statement published by the State Department Pompeo said:

“The United States made clear to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that its purchase of the S-400 system would endanger the security of U.S. military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia’s defense sector, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defense industry.”

Mike Pompeo

The relationship between Ankara and Washington remains rather difficult due to the Turkish position in NATO. It is the second-largest member that hosts US forces on its soil and borders with the Middle East. However, the disrespect Erdogan’s government has shown towards Turkey’s neighbors and various allegations of financing terrorism do not bode well for its position in the alliance. There has also been outrage caused by the actions of Erdogan over the immigration crisis in Europe.

The CAATSA will not include the arms deals signed before the introduction of the import-export ban. It means that Turkey’s military procurement agency is able to receive previous orders. Nonetheless, Ankara is dissatisfied with the US decision. Erdogan has reportedly condemned the move saying:

“We expect support from our NATO ally, the United States, in our fight against terrorist organizations and the forces that have account for our region, not sanctions.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The introduction of an embargo in the final month of the Trump presidency should not comes as a surprise. As the US administration states, it was not an easy decision to sanction a NATO ally, but there were multiple situations in which Turkey turned down US offers for the sale of an Anti-Air Missile System. It is seen as a necessary step in order to punish Erdogan’s government. Demir has reportedlytold Turkey’s Anadolu news agency that he does not “expect this will not influence our relations much. We are NATO allies. As they themselves said, there is cooperation with Turkey in many areas. We and they expect this to continue.”