State official says Turkey risks new sanctions if it doesn't 'walk back' S-400

By Tony Bertuca / October 28, 2020 at 3:40 PM

Turkey has already been booted from the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program for purchasing the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, but a State Department official today said Ankara could face additional consequences if it actually "operationalizes" the system.

R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told reporters today the United States remains clear and consistent in its opposition to Turkey's use of the S-400 and the "potential for sanctions."

"Operationalizing such an asset or system incurs further risk of sanctions and further risk of restrictions," he said.

Turkey, meanwhile, confirmed last week that it had tested the S-400, a move which the Pentagon condemned "in the strongest possible terms."

Cooper said some Turkish officials may have had the sense they were "out of the woods" when the United States removed Turkey from the F-35 program.

"That is not the case," he said.

For instance, Cooper said, Turkey could be prohibited for purchasing additional weapon systems from the United States and allies.

Still, Cooper said, the United States does not want to push Turkey further from the West.

"Having Turkey pushed out completely is to no one's advantage except for Russia," he said.

"What we have here is [an] effort to get Turkey to walk back from operationalizing the S-400 . . . put it away, decommission it, just do not integrate and make it operable," Cooper added.