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US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Warns Turkey of New Sanctions

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The Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee warns Turkey on Russian weapons. Credit: Public domain

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its Chairman Bob Menendez warned Turkey on Monday of new sanctions if it carries out its threat to purchase more weapon systems from Russia.

“We were crystal clear when we wrote the CAATSA law: Sanctions are mandated for any entity that does significant business with the Russian military or intelligence sectors. Any new purchases by Turkey must mean new sanctions,” Menendez said on Twitter.

During an official visit to Athens in August, Menendez, a staunch critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stressed that he hopes Turkey will be a democratic and constructive partner which respects its NATO commitments and the commitments it has made with its neighbors in the region.

The United States wants to support efforts in the region to improve relations and ease tensions, “but we cannot remain silent when Turkey’s behavior escalates tensions,” he added.

On Sunday, The US Department of State also warned Turkey that it risks new sanctions if it continues to buy Russian weapons.

“We continue to make clear to Turkey that any significant new Russian arms purchases would risk triggering CAATSA sanctions separate from and in addition to those imposed in December 2020,” a State Department spokesperson told Greece’s state broadcaster ERT.

The US Administration is alarmed by the recent statements by Erdogan who said he has no qualms about buying Russian defense systems.

“I explained everything to President Biden,” Erdogan said in an interview with host Margaret Brennan that aired on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“Nobody to interfere” with defense systems Turkey buys

He said that the United States’ refusal to deliver F-35 aircraft that Turkey agreed to purchase and Patriot missiles it wished to acquire gave Turkey no choice but to turn to Russia for its S-400 antiaircraft missile system, a point of contention between Turkey and the NATO alliance during both the Trump and Biden administrations.

“In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country at what level. Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions,” Erdogan said.

He added: “Are we going to keep on expecting delivery of weapons from other countries that didn’t give us those weapons?”

Turkey deployed the first batch of the Russian air defense systems in mid-2019, which triggered sanctions from the U.S. It was excluded from the F-35 jet fighter program and five aircraft Turkey has paid for have not been delivered.

Erdogan slammed the U.S. over the F-35 program, stressing that Turkey has paid $1.4 billion but its jets were not delivered. “Why have these five fighters not been delivered to me? I have this money,” Erdogan said.

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