Trump administration officials have reportedly decided to impose economic sanctions on Turkey after its NATO ally refused to back down from a deal to purchase a Russian-made air defense system.
Bloomberg News reported Sunday the sanctions would likely be announced later this week after US President Donald Trump signs off on the punitive measures.
Officials familiar with the deliberations told Bloomberg that sanctions were one of three options drawn up by the State and Defense Departments along with the National Security Council.
The sanctions will be levied through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
According to the officials, Trump will announce the sanctions sometime later this week, after Monday’s anniversary of the 2016 coup attempt against President Recip Tayyip Erdogan. They said Washington did not want to announce the sanctions too close to the anniversary to avoid further speculation in Turkey that the US was behind the failed uprising.
Despite repeated warnings by Washington, Turkey on Friday began receiving components of the much-awaited aerial defense system. Four cargo planes carrying S-400 parts arrived at an airfield outside Ankara on Friday and Saturday. Two more planes with S-400 equipment are expected to arrive on Sunday.
The US has repeatedly warned it would impose economic sanctions and kick Turkey out of the F-35 stealth fighter jet program if Ankara does not drop its S-400 purchase.
The Western defense alliance NATO, which counts Turkey as one of its members, has also expressed concern about the purchase.
But Turkey has refused to bow to US and NATO pressure, saying its purchase of the Russian-made system is a matter of national sovereignty.
The Trump administration was publicly silent Friday on how it would respond to the delivery, with the Pentagon postponing a news conference.
Acting US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar spoke by phone. While the Pentagon declined to discuss the call, the Turkish ministry released a statement late Friday, saying Akar stressed that the purchase of S-400 defense systems “was not an option but rather a necessity” due to Turkey’s security concerns.
The statement said there was no change in Turkey’s “strategic orientation,” adding that a deterioration in relations would not serve the interests of Turkey, the US or NATO.
The minister also emphasized Turkey’s commitment to the F-35 program and repeated a proposal for a joint working group to study how the S-400 system would interact with the fighter jets.
The US is concerned the S-400 could be used to gather data on F-35 capabilities if Turkey has both.