WASHINGTON, June 19. /TASS/. The USA is ready to discuss the ways to minimize any consequences that may potentially ensue from Turkey’s exit from the S-400 deal with Russia, a senior US administration official informed TASS on Wednesday, commenting on Bloomberg’s report on Washington considering three packages of sanctions against Turkey in case it acquires the S-400 missile defense systems.
"Turkey’s planned acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense system will have severe consequences on the U.S. relationship with Turkey. It is the strong desire of the United States to forego these steps, but it requires a willingness by Turkey to engage in a meaningful way about cancelling the S-400 purchase. The United States stands ready to discuss how to minimize any consequences that may ensue from such cancellation," she stated.
"The United States has gone to great lengths to warn Turkey that acquisition of the Russian S-400 system is unacceptable and could trigger the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). In January 2019, the United States made our strongest possible offer on the PATRIOT air and missile defense system, a viable alternative to the S-400," the official noted.
The US official deemed the S-400 system "a Russian intelligence gathering platform that risks the safety of our [US] aircraft and pilots." "Should Turkey procure the S-400, its continued participation in the F-35 [fighter jet] program will not be possible," she stressed.
The senior administration official admitted that Washington’s measures in response to Turkey’s acquisition of S-400 would not be beneficial to the USA. "The steps we will be forced to take should Turkey acquire the S-400 will be painful and expensive for the United States, but we cannot endanger our people," she said.
According to the Bloomberg agency, the USA considers introducing sanctions against several companies in Turkey’s military-industrial complex. These restrictions may be applied in July, the agency reported. However, US President Donald Trump does not want to make a final decision on this matter until the meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan next week, the report claims.
The S-400 deal
The news about the Russian-Turkish talks on the purchase of S-400 systems first came in November 2016. The Russian side confirmed that the contract had been signed on September 12, 2017. Concurrently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara had made an advance payment. Turkey is going to become the first NATO member state to purchase an air defense weapon of this class from Russia.
US officials warn that Turkey’s contract to purchase S-400 missile systems from Russia will severely damage bilateral relations and lead to unilateral US sanctions against Ankara.
Earlier, the Pentagon informed that in order to remain in the F-35 fighter jet program, Turkey needs to drop the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense systems.