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US plans to sanction Turkey for buying Russian S-400 missiles

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. (Carofei/Mistrulli/IPA/ABACAPRESS.COM/TNS)

The U.S. plans to impose sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of S-400 missiles after years of drama that began with the NATO ally’s decision to buy the air-defense system from Russia in 2017.

President Donald Trump has signed off on a package of measures recommended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to two people familiar with the matter. The people didn’t say what the sanctions would include.

The sanctions would be imposed under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, known as CAATSA. Trump, who has long highlighted his personal rapport with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had resisted bipartisan calls from Congress to punish Turkey for the deal with Russia.

Officials at the Treasury Department and State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ankara has argued that the air defense system is an urgent need given the military conflicts surrounding it, and said allies including the U.S. failed to offer it any alternatives — such as the Patriot missile defense system — on terms acceptable to Turkey.

Turkey’s decision to buy the S-400 did have one cost: the country was essentially expelled from the U.S.-led F-35 program. The country had planned to buy about 100 of the next-generation fighters built by Lockheed Martin Corp., and while Turkey continues to manufacture some key components for the jet, that is expected to wind down in 2022.

The relationship between Washington and Ankara has been fraught over a number of problems that go well beyond Turkey’s decision to buy advanced military hardware from Russia. The two are also at odds over U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish militants that Turkey considers to be terrorists. Turkey has also clashed with the U.S. in its conflict with Cyprus and Greece over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

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