Secretary Pompeo Speaks With Turkish FM Cavusoglu on Sanctions

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Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke this week with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss the December 14 imposition of sanctions by the United States on its NATO ally Turkey for its procurement of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, as required under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown stated that Secretary Pompeo made clear to Foreign Minister Cavusoglu that Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system endangers the security of U.S. personnel and military technology and allows Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defense industry.

For its part, Turkey had maintained last year that the S-400 system wold not be used in any way that would compromise security vis-vis Russia.

The Secretary stressed that the goal of the sanctions is to prevent Russia from receiving substantial revenue, access, and influence, and they are not intended to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of Turkey or any other US ally or partner.

Secretary Pompeo also urged Turkey to resolve the S-400 issue in a manner consistent with the United States’ decades-long history of defense-sector cooperation and to re-commit itself to its NATO obligations to purchase NATO-interoperable weaponry.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had charged on Wednesday in a videoconference address that the sanctions imposed by the United States as punishment for his nation’s purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia last year was evidence of the US’ “hostile stance” regarding Turkish sovereignty.

Erdogan went on to state that the sanctions, green lighted during last Friday’s Senate vote, will “fail” in what he believes was the American aim of deterring its NATO ally Turkey’s own defense industry purchases.

He then stated, however, that the problems posed by the wide-ranging sanctions, which were levied against both individuals and firms in the Turkish defense industry, would be overcome.

Last Saturday, the day after the sanctions were announced, in a swipe aimed at the United States after the passing of the Armed Forces Bill, the top advisor to Erdogan said that his country would “teach all the Americans how to swim in Aegean waters.”

Mesut Hakki Caşın, one of Erdogan’s top aides, who has said previously that he would personally execute Greek soldiers, made the remark apparently in response to the US Senate’s almost unanimous passing of the gargantuan bill, which stipulates that Turkey must face sanctions for its 2019 purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system.