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CAATSA on Turkey

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U.S. Senate foreign affairs head says Turkey’s S-400 party is over

U.S. Senator Jim Risch, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN in an interview that time is up for Turkey to address its purchase of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia and that he will press forward with sanctions.

Risch plans to mark up a bipartisan sanctions bill against Turkey next week and will press Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor, CNN reported.

The Republican Senator for Idaho had allowed time for U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to make a deal with Ankara over the S-400s, which NATO officials say could leave the alliance vulnerable to Russian subterfuge.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made no signs that he is willing to compromise, and Turkey defied U.S. warnings by activating the missile defence systems to test them, likely targeting F-16 fighter jets over the capital city of Ankara.

This enraged Risch, CNN said, signalling that Turkey is likely to face repercussions despite Trump’s efforts to shield it.

"They actually did some testing, particularly as that testing affected our defensibilities," Risch said. "The party's over."

The U.S. president has frequently spoken in defence of Erdoğan over the S-400 purchase and opposes sanctions against Turkey for its arms trade with Russia and its military operation in Syria in October.

That operation aroused a wave of anti-Turkish sentiments in the U.S. Congress, since it targeted Kurdish-led groups that have partnered with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State.

The 67-page bill to sanction Turkey has bipartisan support on Risch’s committee, and Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the panel, has been pressing to move forward with the legislation, CNN said.

The measures, which CNN reviewed, will extend past the S-400 issue and include the Turkish military operation in Syria. They include targeted sanctions and restrictions on Turkish officials, institutions, and arms sales tied to operations in Syria and continued use of the S-400.

It would also include parts designed to support Kurds through the refugee and immigration process and would require an investigation and report on war crimes committed during the Syria operation, CNN said.

Risch told the network he expected the bill would pass with overwhelming support.