Nothing has changed about the United States’ stance on Turkey’s purchase of Russian-built S-400 missile defence systems, U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
That means Turkey still faces the prospect of expulsion from the F-35 fighter jet programme and potentially crippling economic sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), Ortagus said.
The state department spokesperson’s statement will have put a dent in Ankara’s hopes that U.S. President Donald Trump would intervene to mitigate measures against Turkey that have bipartisan backing in the U.S. Congress.
The Turkish government has pressed on with its deal with Moscow despite warnings from U.S. officials of the consequences of buying a system that NATO officials could create security breaches.
Sympathetic words from Trump during the G-20 summit in Osaka last month were interpreted by Turkish officials as a sign that sanctions could be avoided.
Ortagus was unconcerned by reports that the S-400 systems were due to arrive in Turkey on Tuesday, but she was also unequivocal about the consequences if the systems do arrive.
“The Turkish authorities know the legislation that has been passed in Congress as it relates to CAATSA … We have said that Turkey will face real and negative consequences if they accept the S-400, including participation in the F-35 programme”, Ortagus said.
Turkey, a participant in the F-35 programme, had been slated to receive dozens of the new generation stealth fighters.
Instead, measures are gradually being put in place to remove Turkish defence firms from the production chain, Turkish pilots receiving training on the fighter at a U.S. airbase have been grounded, and the two fighters Turkey has already purchased are likely to remain in the United States.
The CAATSA law aims to pressure U.S. rivals in Russia, Iran and North Korea by placing economic sanctions on them. Section 231 of the law says sanctions can also be placed on third parties that deal with the Russian intelligence or defence sectors.
As president, Trump has the right to waiver or delay the sanctions, though the conditions attached, which relate to proving that such an action would benefit national security or proving a reduction of the transactions that elicited sanctions, would complicate this course of action.
The 12 sanctions described under the act range from a ban on export licences and loans to prohibiting financial transactions.