US sanctions Turkey on S-400, cautions India, others on buying Russian arms

Imposing sanctions on Turkey for buying the Russian-made S400 Triumf anti-missile system, the US has reiterated its warning to India and other countries about acquiring equipment from Moscow.

The Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, Christopher Ford, announced on Monday a series of sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against NATO ally Turkey’s military procurement agency known by the Turkish acronym SSB and four senior Turkish officials.

“We hope that other countries around the world will also take note that the United States will fully implement CAATSA Section 231 sanctions and that they should avoid further acquisitions of Russian equipment, especially those that could trigger sections,” he said.

India signed a deal valued at $5.43 billion in 2018 for five units of the S-400 anti-missile system defying the US.

US has repeatedly tried to dissuade India from by the Russian system, while dangling the threat of sanctions under CAATSA and the incentive of an alternative anti-missile system.

The US has refused to give a blanket exemption for India from the CAATSA, but it has continued selling arms to India.

During President Donald Trump’s visit to India last year, he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a $3.5 billion arms deal that would include 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawk multi-role helicopters six Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters.

Washington also signed an advanced defence pact, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation, or BECA, in October, giving New Delhi access to intelligence through satellite imagery and data for civilian and military use.

Changing policy under President-Elect Joe Biden on countries buying Russian arms may be complicated because CAATSA has also the support of Democrats, who are more antagonistic towards Moscow because of their claims it helped Trump win in 2016.

The latest sanctions against Turkey come on top of the banning of Ankara from getting the advanced F-35 fighter jets.

Ford said that the sanctions would stop SSB from getting export licenses for weapons and from receiving loans and that the US would also oppose loans from other sources to the company.

In addition, four Turkish officials will face visa and financial restrictions, he said.

At the same time, Ford said, “Turkey is a NATO ally, of course, (and) it is going to be close security partner of ours and we remain committed to that relationship.”

The US is at loggerheads with Turkey also on regional issues like Anakara’s involvement in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere.

Asked for the timing of the announcement of sanctions, which come 37 days before the end of Trump’s term, even though Turkey had signed the deal with Russia in 2017 and began testing it in October, Ford said that as Turkey was a NATO ally and had contributed to NATO, Washington took time to carefully consider the action against Ankara.

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