1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
PoliticsMiddle East

US sanctions Turkey over Russian air defense system

December 14, 2020

The US Trump administration has imposed sanctions on its NATO ally Turkey for acquiring the Russian S-400 missile defense system. Washington has been at odds with Ankara over the purchase for more than a year.

A S-400 surface-to-air missile being launched
The US opposes Turkey using the Russian S-400 missile defense systemImage: Maksim Blinov/Sputnik/dpa/picture alliance

The United States on Monday sanctioned Turkey's military procurement agency and senior officials linked with it in protest at Ankara's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

American officials have long warned that the S-400 is incompatible with NATO equipment and poses a threat to the US military.

"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 US 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," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.

Pompeo went on to say that the purchase had been made despite the availability of alternative systems that were compatible with those used by NATO.

"Turkey is a valued ally and an important regional security partner for the United States, and we seek to continue our decadeslong history of productive defense-sector cooperation by removing the obstacle of Turkey's S-400 possession as soon as possible," he added.

Turkey buys Russian S-400 missile system

Double standards?

In response, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said it rejected and condemned the unilateral US sanctions.

Ismail Demir, who is the head of the military procurement agency SSB and among the officials hit by the sanctions, said they would not harm Turkey's defense sector. Demir said Turkey remained determined to realize the objective of having a "fully independent defense industry."

Ankara has previously said that it was the US' refusal to allow it to buy US-made Patriot missiles that forced it to purchase the Russian system. It has also accused the US of having double standards, as Greece, another NATO member, uses Russian-made missiles.

The sanctions have been imposed by the outgoing Trump administration just a month and a half before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. However, Biden's team has indicated that it, too, is opposed to Turkey's use of the S-400 and the problems it might cause within NATO.

Turkey tested the system for the first time in October, drawing warnings from the US.

 tj/rc (dpa, Reuters, AP)