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Sen. Menendez: Russia’s supply of S-400s to Turkey constitutes a violation of sanctions

Featured Sen. Menendez: Russia’s supply of S-400s to Turkey constitutes a violation of sanctions

US Senator Robert Menendez expressed his strong disapproval of the possibility of Turkey acquiring additional batteries of the Russian  S-400 anti-aircraft/missile system. The reaction of the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee comes in the wake of the publication of the Russian news agency TASS which claims that Turkey is preparing to sign a new agreement with Russia for the supply of the S-400 system.

Menendez is in Greece, at the moment, on a private unofficial visit to Thrace accompanied by US ambassador George Tsounis, at the invitation of a prominent local entrepreneur. The two US officials visited a brewery in Komotini. They also went to the port of Alexandroupolis in order to be informed about the current developments and the military activity there, on the occasion of the arrival of the giant American transport ship MENDONCA.

Ankara’s intentions have not yet been fully clarified, as it remains to be confirmed whether Turkey really intends to sign a new defense contract with Russia as claimed by the TASS news agency. In any case, the possibility of acquiring a new S-400 battery remains on the table, as such is provided for in the contract it has already signed with the Russian side.

Both scenarios are strongly opposed by Senator Menendez, who calls the procurement of additional S-400s a clear violation of US sanctions and calls on Turkey to reject any military cooperation with Vladimir Putin, whom he calls a war criminal.

Menendez’s statement

Menendez issued a statement on Thursday blasting reports that Turkey intends to proceed with the second S-400 batch and called on Ankara to “unequivocally demonstrate its commitment to NATO and to regional peace and security by fully rejecting any military cooperation with a war criminal like Vladimir Putin.”

“Between continued antagonistic violations of Greece’s airspace and the delaying of the accession process for Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, I sincerely hope Turkey will change course and live up to its responsibilities to the defense alliance by being the constructive partner in the region we all hope it can be,” said Menendez. “The United States must be clear: Any expansion of Turkey’s ties to the Russian defense sector would be a grave mistake that would further endanger the security of our NATO allies and partners throughout Europe.”

The State Department’s initial reaction to the publication of the Russian news agency TASS

Responding to a question from the Hellas Journal website about the possibility of a new agreement providing for the supply of additional S-400s to Turkey, a State Department representative expressed the opposition of the US to such a move. As he characteristically noted, “we have seen these reports but we are not aware of any new developments on this matter. Our position on the S-400 purchase from Turkey is known. We refer you to the Turkish government to talk about its defense procurement plans. Given Russia’s brutal and unjustified ongoing invasion of Ukraine, now more than ever we urge all countries to avoid doing business with Russia’s defense sector, which puts them at risk of sanctions.”

Later on July 16, State Department spokesman Ned Price took over, moving along the same lines during the standard press briefing. He appeared, however, to be taking a wait-and-see attitude, as he did not want to announce any changes to the F-16 fighter upgrade issue before things have cleared up. Asked whether the procurement of a second batch of S-400s could change the US government’s position on the F-16, Ned Price said, “of course we’ll have to wait and see what happens, but we don’t know. no new developments on this matter and so we will refer you to the Turkish authorities for now to discuss their plans.”

State Department Opposes Both Scenarios for Additional S-400 Supply: “We Urge Turkey to No Longer Possess the S-400 System”

However, the State Department’s objections are not limited to the scenario presented by the TASS agency, which concerns the signing of a new contract between the Russian and Turkish sides.

In a clarifying question submitted by Greek state news agency AMNA, on whether Washington is asking not to proceed with the existing contract that provides for the supply of a second S-400 battery, a representative of the US Department of State clarified that the US is not simply asking if there is a new procurement but they continue to call on Turkey to completely abandon the S-400 system it already possesses.