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US foreign policy

Biden’s nominee for US envoy to Turkey threatens more sanctions over Russia

Flake also hit out at Ankara’s “democratic backsliding and the negative trajectory in terms of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and peaceful assembly in Turkey.”

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US President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the next envoy to Turkey has warned Ankara that they will face further sanctions if they buy more Russian weapons.

“Despite the United States’ tireless efforts to address Turkey’s security needs, Turkey still chose to purchase and test fire the Russian S-400 system,” Jeff Flake said in remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

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Flake, a former Republican senator, was nominated by Biden earlier this year. Flake was one of the few Republicans who broke ranks with former President Donald Trump during the final months of his presidency.

The former Republican will face a difficult task as ties between Washington and Ankara have fallen to new lows.

Last week, Turkey’s president said his country would purchase more Russian weapons and accused the US of supporting terrorists. He also said ties with the Biden administration had “not start off right.”

The incoming US envoy said, if confirmed, he would “consistently reiterate that that disposing of the system is the path to removing CATSAA sanctions.”

Flake added: “I will also warn Turkey that any future purchase of Russian weapons risks triggering further CAATSA sanctions in addition to those already imposed.”

But he said that he would encourage Turkey to buy US defense weapons to keep the Turkish military interoperable with NATO.

Flake would be the first political appointee to become US ambassador to Turkey in 40 years, he said.

Apart from the defense partnership, Flake said Turkey was an important economic partner, with the US being Turkey’s fourth-largest source of imports.

Flake also hit out at Ankara’s “democratic backsliding and the negative trajectory in terms of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and peaceful assembly in Turkey.”

Armenian Genocide

Asked about recognizing the Armenian Genocide, a stance adopted by the US under Biden, Flake said he would do the same. He previously voted against the move as a member of Congress and Senate on more than one occasion.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen. Bob Menendez asked about his stance. Flake said he was ready to join the US administration in reaffirming the Armenian genocide.

Contrary to former US presidents, Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to the American-Armenian community and recognized the 1915 slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.

Erdogan quickly hit back and slammed the move as outrageous.

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