US Senator Robert Menendez says he is not worried about retaliation from Turkey after Washington imposed sanctions on Ankara, with officials in Turkey warning further development of their domestic defence industry could speed up as a result.
Earlier this week, the United States imposed sanctions on Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries, citing Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) after Ankara bought Moscow’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system which angered its NATO ally across the Atlantic.
Menendez took credit for the sanctions, telling Greek media in Washington that his own previous amendment to the 2021 fiscal budget, essentially squeezing in provisions for sanctions on Turkey for one year, “was definitely a driving force,” arguing that Ankara’s behaviour elsewhere including the eastern Mediterranean were also factors in the decision.
But according to Kathimerini Greece, members of the US Congress have quietly blocked major US arms sales to Turkey for nearly two years in an effort to pressure Ankara to abandon its Russian S-400 missile system.
But members of the US Congress have quietly blocked major US arms sales to Turkey for nearly two years in an effort to pressure Ankara to abandon its Russian S-400 missile system
Kathimerini, citing Defense News website, went on to add that Menendez took part in efforts to freeze the completion of previous sales to Ankara, including a follow-on contract for F-16 structural upgrades and export licenses for US-made engines that Turkey needs to complete a 1.5-billion-dollar sale of helicopters to Pakistan.
A factsheet from the US Department of State pointed out that full blocking sanctions and visa restrictions were being imposed on a number of officials within the Turkish defence industry.
One of those targets, the head of the Turkey’s Defence Industries Presidency Ismail Demir, speculated that the country’s domestic industry could speed up because of the sanctions.
"The development of the domestic industry will continue, perhaps even faster. In a sense, this will be a flare and a warning," he said, prompting immediate reaction from Menendez.
“Any possible response from Turkey would have the opposite effect and would ultimately affect it,” the senator told an ERT correspondent in Washington.
Turkey’s foreign ministry also condemned the sanctions, saying in a statement that the country would “take the necessary steps against this decision, which will negatively affect our relations, and will retaliate in a manner and timing it deems appropriate.”
Ankara said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and State Secretary Mike Pompeo discussed Washington's decision in a phone call on Tuesday.
Ankara rejects US accusations that the S-400 systems would jeopardize NATO, adding that Turkey’s previous efforts to buy patriot missiles had been rejected by Washington.
Earlier this month Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated an engine test and design center, saying it would also be used to test future indigenous engines, including a planned engine for the TF-X, Turkey’s first indigenous fighter jet in the making.
Other domestic engine efforts were being driven by programs for drones, light armored vehicles, new-generation main battle tanks and missiles, according to Demir who also spoke during the ceremony.