US considering new sanctions, F-35 exit for Turkey over Russian S-400s

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The Trump administration still plans to impose sanctions on Turkey and remove it from a critical fighter jet program if the NATO ally acquires Russian air defenses, US officials told Reuters, despite the Turkish president’s assurances to the contrary.

“The United States has consistently and clearly stated that Turkey will face very real and negative consequences if it proceeds with its S-400 acquisition, including suspension of procurement and industrial participation in the F-35 program and exposure to sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA),” a State Department spokeswoman said.

After meeting US President Donald Trump over the weekend in Japan, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would be spared damaging US sanctions once Russia’s S-400 air defense system starts arriving in Turkey in coming days.

Trump appeared sympathetic to Erdogan at the talks and reluctant to publicly commit to sanctions — despite being repeatedly asked by reporters.

But US government officials told Reuters that, at least so far, the administration intends to impose sanctions on Turkey and pull it from the F-35 fighter jet program if it takes delivery of the Russian S-400 system, as expected.

According to a Financial Times editorial published on July 1, new sanctions may be imposed on Turkey via the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”.

“The US Congress is unlikely to be as sanguine as the president on sanctions. Washington has repeatedly made clear Turkey cannot buy both the F-35, the new stealth fighter jet being produced by the US and its allies — including Turkey itself — as well as the Russian missile system. It has warned that if, as a Nato ally, Mr. Erdogan sides with Russia, Turkey will be hit by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The US has already suspended training for Turkish pilots on the F-35 and held up early deliveries of up to 100 of the aircraft Ankara expects to purchase. It is right to do so,” the Financial Times editorial read.

If the United States removes Turkey from the F-35 program, and imposes sanctions on the NATO ally, it would be one of the most significant ruptures in recent history in the relationship between the two nations.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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