Russia and Turkey are going to continue their military cooperation despite the threat of US sanctions over the S-400 deal, foreign ministers of the two countries said during a joint press conference in Sochi on Tuesday.
“We appreciate, as President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly noted, the principled disposition of our Turkish colleagues to continue cooperation in this area, despite the continuing illegitimate pressure from Washington,” Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration had imposed sanctions on Turkey, a NATO ally, over its purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia. Reports suggest Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was assured by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the American sanctions were intended to prevent Russia from receiving substantial revenues from the sale.
The US Sanctions
The US had warned Turkey against the S-400 deal prior to the delivery of the Russian air defense system last year. Washington had said that Turkey, being a NATO ally, was not allowed to buy weapons from a non-NATO country.
The Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) is the most advanced air defense system in the world, capable of bringing down the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets. It is considered far superior to the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).
While imposing the sanction, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said that Turkey was warned numerous times against its purchase of the S-400 system as it “would endanger the security of US military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia’s defense sector”.
On Monday, the US House of Representatives overrode US President Donald Trump’s veto against the 2021 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), a defense spending bill, which includes sanctions against Turkey. The final decision on Trump’s veto on the $750 billion bill will be decided in the Senate, where the final vote will take place.
The Turkey foreign minister’s visit to Russia is seen as an attempt to defuse the tensions between the two countries in the wake of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict where Turkey had sided with Azerbaijan and Russia with Armenia.
Now, the two countries are monitoring the Moscow-brokered ceasefire. On the Karabakh, Lavrov said that the two sides had reached a “common view” and a “unified position” on the need to prevent foreign mercenaries from entering the region.
Russia and Turkey continue to maintain their good relations despite their opposing positions with regard to conflicts in Libya and Syria. Tuesday’s talks between Lavrov and his counterpart included discussions on these areas as well.
Lavrov said both sides reiterated their commitment to “continue to facilitate normalization of the situation in Libya in every possible way via a comprehensive intra-Libyan dialogue that includes all key political forces and representatives of all three historical regions of Libya”.