Russia, S-400 missile

Government and opposition in Turkey criticise US sanctions

Turkey has harshly criticised Washington’s decision to impose sanctions on the purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-missile system.

Government and opposition in Turkey have strongly criticised the sanctions unilaterally imposed by the US against the Turkish defence industry over Ankara’s decision to acquire the Russian S-400 missile defence system, despite the fact that US President Donald Trump himself acknowledged once that the Turkish government had acted correctly, ruling out sanctions against the Eurasian country.

“We are deeply concerned by the decision of the United States to impose sanctions against our country due to the purchase of the S-400 anti-missile system from Russia. We strongly condemn this decision,” Ünal Çeviköz, deputy for Istanbul of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) – the main opposition party in Turkey, said in a statement on Tuesday.

We will never accept these sanctions, since the acquisition of the S-400 is a sovereign decision of Turkey,” added Çeviköz, former Turkish ambassador and current foreign policy adviser to the CHP, recalling that Ankara had no choice but to negotiate with Moscow the purchase of the S-400 due to NATO’s refusal to lower the price of Patriot missiles.

According to Çeviköz, the sanctions imposed on Turkey will only serve to affect the strategic capabilities of NATO, of which Turkey is a key partner with the second largest armed forces behind the United States itself. “Except for the 3-year arms embargo imposed on Turkey in 1975 after the Cyprus peace operation, the US had never resorted to sanctions in the last 40 years,” the CHP spokesman added.

Trump had admitted that Turkey did the right thing

The Turkish government yesterday flatly rejected Washington’s new sanctions for the acquisition of the S-400s, warning that if the White House does not back down, Ankara could also take its own retaliatory measures. “We condemn and reject the decision to impose unilateral sanctions against Turkey,” Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“The situation that forced Turkey to acquire the S-400 systems is well known. President Trump himself has admitted on numerous occasions that the purchase by Turkey was justified,” the statement added, referring to Ankara’s unsuccessful negotiations to acquire the Patriot antimissile systems, the cost of which is much higher.

Ankara also rejects that the S-400s endangers the integrity of NATO defence systems, and recalls that Turkey has offered on numerous occasions the creation of a technical committee with NATO to address this issue objectively; however, the Turkish proposal has so far received no response.

“The US preference to reject our offer and resolve the issue through diplomacy, imposing unilateral sanctions in its place, is an inexplicable action,” the statement said, adding that “Turkey will take the necessary measures against this decision that clearly damages bilateral relations“. Russia – in addition to Azerbaijan – has also criticised the sanctions, which Moscow describes as a sign of Washington’s “arrogance” in the face of international laws.