Ankara Blasts US Over Double Standards on S-400 Purchases by Turkey, India
10:09 GMT 25.04.2022 (Updated: 10:43 GMT 25.04.2022)
Turkey and Russia penned a $2.5 billion deal in 2017 for the purchase of the advanced Russian-made air defence system. Washington made several attempts to strong-arm Ankara out of the acquisition, booting the country out of the F-35 fighter programme in mid-2019, and slapping sanctions on the Turkish Presidency of Defence Industries in late 2020.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has accused the United States of double standards when it comes to sanctions against countries which have purchased Russia’s S-400s, saying Washington has applied “different policies” in relation to Turkey and India on the matter.
“The United States pursues different policies towards Turkey and India regarding the purchase of S-400 systems from Russia…Everything would be easier if the US really saw Turkey’s true friendship, power and allied status”, Akar said
in an interview with Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper on Monday.
Akar recalled that when the S-400s first began arriving in Turkey in 2019, Washington slapped its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) restrictions on Ankara. However, when India began taking deliveries of its own S-400s in December 2021, the US did not resort to similar restrictions against Delhi.
The defence minister nevertheless expressed confidence that the issue of Turkey’s S-400s – which Ankara has said repeatedly is non-negotiable as a matter of the country’s national defence, was a problem “that can be resolved", similarly to the issue of the F-35. The most important problem in bilateral relations was US support for the YPG – the Syrian Kurdish people’s defence units operating in northern and eastern Syria, which Turkey classifies as “terrorists”, Akar said.
Commenting on progress made in negotiations on the purchase of F-16s from the US, Akar said caution was required, since a deal would require approval from Congress, and US lawmakers could “use the S-400 issue as an excuse” to block the deliveries of those aircraft as well.
The defence minister also expressed hopes about an agreement on the purchase of the Aster 30 SAMP-T mobile air defence system, saying he and the defence ministers of France and Italy may meet to discuss joint production of the platform. Turkey, he said, can use both its S-400s and SAMP-Ts at the same time.
US lawmakers cobbled together the CAATSA sanctions in mid-2017, with the restrictions threatening sanctions against any country that buys advanced weapons systems from Russia. In addition to Turkey, which saw restrictions imposed against its Presidency of Defence Industries in December 2020, CAATSA was also employed against the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Defence Ministry’s Central Military Commission over Beijing’s purchase of Russian S-400s and Su-35 combat aircraft in 2018. Washington has also previously threatened to use the sanctions against Russia’s European partners in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and against Indonesia.
The S-400 is a mobile air defence system capable of downing drones, airplanes, helicopters, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles at ranges of up to 400 km. The system is operated by Russia, Belarus, China, Turkey, and India. Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Qatar have expressed interest in the system.