Washington warned of “potential serious consequences” for the US-Turkey relationship on Monday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made light of any potential US sanctions against his country.
On Sunday, Erdogan challenged the United States to impose sanctions on Turkey over its involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and testing of Russian-made S-400 defense systems.
“Whatever your sanctions are, don’t be late,” Erdogan said during a televised speech in the eastern city of Malatya.
State Department Spokesman Morgan Ortagus told Al Arabiya English that the US “has been clear on our expectation that the S-400 system should not be operationalized.”
“We have also been clear on the potential serious consequences for our security relationship if Turkey activates the system,” said Ortagus.
Turkey confirmed last week the testing of the Russian defense systems it purchased in 2019, arguing that the move did not conflict with its NATO commitments.
“We are not going to ask America for permission,” said Erdogan.
Ortagus said the US condemns “in the strongest terms the S-400 test missile launch as incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO Ally and strategic partner of the United States.”
Turkey and the US are both part of the 29-member international military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was founded to create a counterweight to the Soviet Union's military capabilities at the time of the organization's establishment.
Last July, the US government removed Turkey from the American F-35 fighter jet program over its purchase of Russia’s S-400 defense system.
“We stepped in for the F-35, you threatened us,” Erdogan said on Sunday. “You said, ‘Send the S-400s back to Russia.’ We are not a tribal state. We are Turkey.”
Ortagus said that the United States has “expressed to the Government of Turkey, at the most senior levels, that the acquisition of Russian military systems such as the S-400 is unacceptable.”