US-Turkey Arms Tiff: Retaliation vs Retreat

Turkey has vowed to retaliate if the US sanctions it for buying Russia’s S-400 anti-air defense systems and prevents it from purchasing F-35 jets in response, and this escalating standoff suggests that the only possible outcomes are retaliation or retreat by one or the other sides.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine during EuroMaidan and current one to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt warned last month that the US can expect some “turbulence” in its relations with Turkey prior to what was originally supposed to be next year’s election, but the vote was unexpectedly pushed forward by President Erdogan a few weeks ago to now be held on 24 June. Just as the American diplomat predicted, relations between the two sides have indeed soured, and while the US’ arming of Kurdish militants in Syria is the primary reason for this, the formal state-to-state military dimension of their partnership is quickly becoming another crisis point.

Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu assured his countrymen that their government would retaliate if the US denies them any military equipment on the basis of last year’s “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”, or CAATSA, which is intended to theoretically punish almost any country cooperating with Russia.

Bearing in mind that the Turkish election will be held by the end of next month, it’s practically inconceivable that Ankara would walk back on its announcement if Washington does indeed sanction it because it might lead…

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