US senators call for sanctions as Turkey poised to test Russian S-400s

US senators call for sanctions as Turkey poised to test Russian S-400s
2 min read
08 October, 2020
The Republican and Democratic senators have called for the Trump administration to impose sanctions amid reports Turkey will test the Russian missile defence systems next week.
Turkey is reportedly planning to test the S-400s next week [Getty]
Two US lawmakers have urged the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Turkey after reports that claim Ankara is due to test its Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems as early as next week.

Turkey acquired the S-400 batteries from Russia last year despite warnings from the US and NATO that the purchase would see Ankara booted from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme and potentially exposed to damaging sanctions.

Ankara was expelled from the F-35 scheme but has so far managed to avoid sanctions, with critical lawmakers arguing that President Donald Trump has been too lenient with his Turkish counterpart.

The S-400 systems began to arrive in Turkey last year but have not been tested until now.

Reports have since emerged that the military intends to test the S-400s next week in the northern city of Sinop located on the Black Sea coast.

The claims were initially reported in Turkish Minute, an outlet linked to followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, but have since been shared by Bloomberg. Gulen is accused of masterminding a 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A video widely shared on social media purported to show the S-400 batteries being transported to Sinop.

James Lankford, Republican Senator for Oklahoma, and Chris Van Hollen, Democratic Senator for Maryland, wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday to express their concerns over the reports.

Washington's earlier failure to impose sanctions over the purchase had "emboldened" Ankara, the senators wrote, urging the Trump administration to impose sanctions.

The State Department has said it is "deeply concerned" over possible tests of the Russian missile defence systems. 

"We are aware of these reports. We continue to object strenuously to Turkey's purchase of the S-400 air defense system, and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is continuing its efforts to bring the S-400 into operation," a State Department official told Sputnik, an outlet linked to the Russian state.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has also warned Ankara over the reports.

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