Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Sunday said possible US sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of an S-400 air defense system from Russia will be “responded to,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“If the US takes a step toward an embargo or visa [ban] on us, Turkey will definitely respond to that. But we would not want to do that. Why should it come to that?” Çavuşoğlu told CNN Türk.
“Their approach of threatening talks or sanctions is not correct when we are so sensitive on this [S-400 air defense system] issue. If [the US] takes such steps while we are trying to mend relations, they will certainly get a response from Turkey,” added Çavuşoğlu, Anadolu reported.
The Turkish minister also said he is likely to meet with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo on May 11 or 16.
“It seems it will be on the 11th or 16th. We still have not received a response for the 11th, which was our proposed date. The visit will most probably take place next week.”
Minister Çavuşoğlu also said Russia had proposed a visa exemption for official and service Russian passports while negotiations are ongoing for partial exemptions on Turkish passports, planned to be implemented at the end of this year.
A Russian presidential aide on military cooperation in March said Russia would begin fulfilling a contract with Turkey for the delivery of an S-400 air defense system in early 2020.
Turkey and Russia on Dec. 29 signed a $2.5 billion agreement for Moscow to supply Ankara with an S-400 missile defense system, finalizing a deal the two countries have been working on for more than a year.
The S-400 deal has caused concern in the West because Turkey is a member of NATO and the system cannot be integrated into NATO’s military architecture.
Erdoğan announced in September that Ankara had signed a deal with Russia to buy an S-400 missile defense system despite opposition from NATO allies.
Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael said the US had relayed its concerns to Turkish officials over the purchase. Michael said that a NATO inter-operable missile defense system was the best option for defending Turkey from the full range of threats in the region.
NATO also stated in September that Turkey had not informed the alliance of the details of its agreement to purchase an S-400 air defense system from Russia.
On Aug. 1, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said that Ankara procuring an S-400 anti-missile system from Russia concerned the Pentagon.
Pentagon officials said their concern is about the potential of confusion on the battlefield between Ankara and alliance members due to the use of Russian systems by a NATO ally.
Reacting to critics from the West, Erdoğan in July said “Greece, a member of NATO, has been using the S-300 for years.”
“You [NATO] neither share technology and respond to demands for joint production, nor present an offer that is financially effective. Hence, you are not in a position to say ‘Don’t buy a non-NATO system’,” Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık said in a statement in April.