Erdogan sticks to position on Russian missile deal after meeting with Biden

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan holds a information convention in the course of the NATO summit on the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2021.

Yves Herman | Reuters

WASHINGTON — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave no indication on Monday that Ankara’s deal with Moscow for the S-400 missile system, which triggered unprecedented U.S. sanctions on the NATO ally, could be reversed.

Erdogan’s feedback got here on the heels of his first face-to-face bilateral meeting with President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the NATO leaders summit.

“It was a very fruitful and sincere meeting,” Erdogan instructed reporters at NATO’s headquarters, including that the 2 allies would proceed to negotiate on a variety of points.

Biden additionally mentioned the meeting with Erdogan was productive, including that he was assured the U.S. will “make real progress with Turkey.”

Under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, any international authorities working with the Russian protection sector finds itself within the crosshairs of U.S. financial sanctions.

In December, the Trump administration slapped CAATSA sanctions on Turkey after the NATO ally bought a multibillion-dollar Russian missile system. The S-400, a Russian cellular surface-to-air missile system, is alleged to pose a danger to the NATO alliance in addition to the F-35, America’s most costly weapons platform.

The transfer additional stoked tensions between Washington and Ankara within the weeks forward of Biden’s ascension to the White House.

National safety advisor Jake Sullivan instructed reporters on Sunday that Biden and Erdogan would focus on “issues in our bilateral relationship,” with out particularly naming the U.S. sanctions.

Sullivan additionally mentioned the 2 are anticipated to seek the advice of on a variety of regional safety points, spanning from Syria to Libya to the japanese Mediterranean. He added that Biden would even have the possibility to seek the advice of with his Turkish counterpart on how to counter China and Russia.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and US President Joe Biden (R) maintain a meeting on the NATO summit on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, on June 14, 2021.

Murat Cetinmuhurdar | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

When requested in regards to the CAATSA sanctions imposed on Turkey, legal professionals from Kirkland & Ellis described them as “calibrated” but additionally doubtlessly difficult to elevate.

“The sanctions that were implemented are a bit more targeted,” defined Sanjay Mullick, a accomplice at Kirkland & Ellis who specializes within the agency’s International Trade and National Security group.

“Here the focus was on licensing, technology, and not so much on prohibitions on any and all financial transaction. The takeaway is a bit more calibrated, although the sanctioning of a NATO ally is certainly meaningful,” he added.

“This is a step that is not typically seen in the relationship with such an allied partner, although in this case, perhaps prompted by Turkey’s engagement in activities which were contrary to prior U.S. foreign policy decisions such as those put in place against Russia in 2017,” Abigail Cotterill, counsel at Kirkland & Ellis’ International Trade and National Security Practice Group, instructed CNBC.

When requested about any potential for the Biden administration to elevate sanctions, the legal professionals defined that unilateral motion taken by the president could also be unlikely given the complexity of the matter.

“Typically yes, the president can do and undo, or at least work with Congress to do and undo. This one’s a bit more pointed situation where there may be less flexibility and less agility, requiring a combination of legal authority and of course political will,” Mullick defined.

“We might expect to see at least some coordination, even if not required between the executive branch and Congress,” Cotterill added.

“This really fits in the larger context of U.S.-Russia relations and in a way, the sanctions on Turkey, quote-unquote, were a derivative of the law, that put in place a mechanism for sanctioning anybody fill in the blank if they engaged in certain activities with certain sectors of Russian defense,” Mullick mentioned.

“And so Turkey happened to walk itself into that knowingly, unknowingly, I think knowingly,” he added.

Striking a deal with the Kremlin

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin final April. 

Adem Altan | AFP | Getty Images

A Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

Sergei Malgavko | TASS through Getty Images

Due to Turkey’s removing from the F-35 program, U.S. protection large Lockheed Martin provided the jets initially slated to be part of Ankara’s arsenal to different clients.

In October, stories surfaced that Turkey’s navy started testing the S-400 system. Both the departments of Defense and State condemned the obvious missile take a look at off Turkey’s Black Sea coast.

“The United States has expressed to the Government of Turkey, at the most senior levels, that the acquisition of Russian military systems such as the S-400 is unacceptable,” wrote then-State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus in an emailed statement at the time.

“The United States has been clear on our expectation that the S-400 system should not be operationalized,” she added.

An F-35 fighter jet is seen as Turkey takes supply of its first F-35 fighter jet with a ceremony in Forth Worth, Texas, USA on June 21, 2018. Two such planes destined for Turkey are but to depart American soil.

Atilgan Ozdil | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The U.S. sanctions coupled with Turkey’s compelled departure from a profitable protection platform despatched a powerful message to different international governments contemplating future weapons offers with Russia.

“How the Biden administration handles the S-400 sanctions will form an important and durable precedent,” defined Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project on the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Our allies, partners, and adversaries have already witnessed the slow, begrudging, and tepid imposition of CAATSA sanctions by the Trump administration. Exacerbating that story by further weakness would send an unfortunate signal to a host of other partners,” Karako instructed CNBC.