Turkey Risks Further Sanctions if It Buys Second Batch of S-400

In an interview with American broadcaster CBS News, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would make decisions on its defense systems independently.

“In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems (referring to S-400) we acquire, from which country at what level,” Erdogan said in an interview that aired on Sunday. “Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions.”

NATO member Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 programme and its defense officials sanctioned after it bought the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system.

“We continue to make clear to Turkey that any significant new Russian arms purchases would risk triggering CAATSA 231 sanctions separate from and in addition to those imposed in December 2020,” a State Department spokesperson said, referring to the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

The US strongly objects to the use of Russian systems within NATO and says it poses a threat to the F-35s. Turkey maintains the S-400s can be used independently without being integrated into NATO systems and therefore pose no risk.

Last year, the US sanctioned Turkey for its purchase under a 2017 law aimed at pushing back Russian influence. The move was the first time the law – called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) – was used to penalize an American ally.

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Turkey has meanwhile extended a contract with a New York based law firm hired in 2020 to lobby Turkey’s case with U.S. lawmakers. Ankara has earlier said it wants to remain in the F-35 program in which it supplies parts to Lockheed Martin and was to receive over 100 fighter jets over a period of time.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s $1.5 million contract for “strategic counsel and legal consultancy services” was disclosed on Sept. 20 and runs until August 2022, U.S. Justice Department records show. Turkey first hired the firm in February for six months to lobby for readmission to the fighter-jet modernization program after the Trump administration suspended the country’s participation.

The contract requires the firm to “advise on a strategy” for Turkey to “remain within the Joint Strike Fighter Program” while “taking into consideration and addressing the complex geopolitical and commercial factors at play.”

Arnold & Porter said it would “undertake a targeted outreach to the U.S. commercial partners and stakeholders” within the program to “sound out and understand their interests” in Turkey’s “continued involvement as a strategic ally and valued partner.”

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