Trump says he is ‘not looking’ at sanctions against Turkey over S-400... at least not right now

A Russian Antonov military cargo plane, carrying parts of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, is unloaded after landing at the Murted Air Base in Ankara, Turkey, on July 12, 2019 Global Look Press / Xinhua A Russian Antonov military cargo plane, carrying parts of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, is unloaded after landing at the Murted Air Base in Ankara, Turkey, on July 12, 2019
US President Donald Trump said he is not considering immediately imposing any new sanctions against Ankara after it went ahead with Russia’s S-400 deal. Earlier, the US cut off Turkey from the F-35 program.

“We’re not looking at that right now,” Trump told journalists at the White House when asked about potential additional sanctions against Ankara over the deal that angered the US establishment and further exacerbated tensions between the two NATO allies.

Turkey might, in fact, face some restrictions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA – a 2017 legislation that imposed sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran. It also allows Washington to punish any other nation engaging in a “significant transaction” with Russia's defense or intelligence sectors.

The legislation envisages a whole range of measures Ankara could face from limiting the size of US bank loans to Turkish companies to barring access to the US financial system completely. Yet, it does not specify when such measures should be implemented.

Trump, however, appears reluctant to resort to such measures. Washington already went ahead with one of its threats and cut Ankara off from its F-35 joint strike fighter program – something it repeatedly warned it would do if Turkey continued with its plans regarding the Russian air defense system. At the same time, the president made it clear on Tuesday, it was an uneasy decision.

“It is a very tough situation that they [Turkey] are in, and it’s a tough situation that we have been placed in, the United States,” he said. The move, meanwhile, seemingly only angered Ankara, which lashed out at Washington by saying that such a step is “incompatible with the spirit of alliance” and was absolutely unjustified.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the exclusion of “one of the main partners of the F-35 program is unjust”while dismissing the US’ concerns that the S-400 would weaken the F-35. Earlier, Washington claimed that the Russian-made air defense systems could somehow gain intelligence on the US jets’ “advanced capabilities.”

In its attempt to punish Ankara, the US in fact puts itself in a bind as well. Turkey, which planned to buy some 100 fighter jets, was one of the four major customers of the program. Apart from that, Turkey also produced as many as 900 parts for the aircraft. Now, moving the production of these parts from Turkey to another country could cost Washington between $500 and $600 million, according to a US official cited by Reuters.