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US expected to sanctions Turkey over Russian missile defence system: reports

Turkey is also facing possible sanctions from the EU [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 December, 2020

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The proposed sanctions could further deteriorate the the United States' relationship with Turkey.
The Trump administration is expected to announce sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, according to new reports.

The last-minute policy reversal comes amid pressure on the White House from Congress to sanction Ankara in the form of the annual Defence Bill.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce limited sanctions over the S-400 acquisition as soon as Friday, major news outlets including Reuters and the Financial Times have reported.

The sanctions would target Turkey's Presidency of Defence Industries and its chief, Ismail Demir, sources told Reuters.

Those would be significantly less severe than sanctions called for by bipartisan lawmakers but the Trump administration hopes the move will assuage pressure in Congress.

This year's Defence Bill would oblige the White House to impose sanctions within 30 days. While Trump has threatened to veto the bill for unrelated reasons, it is highly likely to pass in the Senate with a veto-proof majority.

By acting now before a passed Defence Bill mandates sanctions, Trump hopes to appear as if his hand was not forced, sources said. 

However, the move will likely create fresh difficulties in American-Turkish relations for the incoming Biden administration.

The Turkish lira has already weakened by 1.4 percent over the news of incoming sanctions, further damaging an economy struggling with double-digit inflation and the coronavirus crisis.

Ankara had so far avoided sanctions given the warm relationship between President Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The imposition of sanctions will be "counter-productive", a Turkish official told Reuters.

"Turkey is in favor of solving these problems with diplomacy and negotiations. We won't accept one-sided impositions," the official speaking on condition of anonymity said.

The threat of US sanctions, albeit limited, comes as the European Union mulls imposing its own sanctions against Turkey.

EU leaders are currently debating sanctions against Ankara over Turkish gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

"Sanctions will not work," Turkish presidential advisor Ibrahim Kalin claimed on Wednesday.

"It will produce the reverse effect. Everyone will lose at the end of the day," Kalin said.

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