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NATO Ally Forges Ahead With Russian Weapons Deal, US Does Nothing

Turkey is allegedly forging ahead with a second purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, but the Biden administration’s response has been muted after the U.S. previously penalized the NATO ally for the first delivery in 2017.

Turkey, a member of the NATO defense alliance, said that talks for the upcoming S-400 delivery corresponded to an existing contract with Russia that contained two delivery regiments, the first of which resulted in U.S. sanctions levied on Turkish defense industry leaders and the country’s expulsion from the U.S.’ F-35 fighter jet program, Reuters reported. The State Department Tuesday urged countries to refrain from transactions with the Russian defense industry but did not provide details on what kind of response Turkey’s scheduled purchase of advanced Russian weapons systems would receive from the U.S.

“Our position on Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 is well known,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

“But the point we have consistently made across the board is that Russia’s brutal and unjustified war against Ukraine makes it vital … that all countries avoid transactions with Russia’s defense sector. It puts them at risk of sanctions,” Price added.

The apparent arms transfer comes as the U.S. received a Turkish delegation to discuss the NATO member’s potential purchase of F-16 fighter jets, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation, that has likewise elicited condemnation from U.S. lawmakers.

House lawmakers passed an amendment to the annual defense bill in July that would bar the Biden administration from authorizing F-16 transfers to Turkey without credible explanation of how the transfer supports U.S. interests, citing Turkey’s violation of Greek airspace as an example of the NATO ally’s unreliability.

However, President Biden confirmed in June that he supported the sale of F-16 jets to Turkey after Turkey dropped its objections to Finland and Sweden’s entrance to NATO, according to Reuters.

“The United States strongly values its partnership with its NATO Ally Turkey. The United States and Turkey have longstanding and deep bilateral defense ties, and Turkey’s continued NATO interoperability remains a priority,” the State Department spokesperson said, referring the DCNF to the Turkish defense ministry for further information. The Turkish defense ministry could not be reached.

Price declined to comment Tuesday on whether the S-400 transfers from Russia would change the administration’s calculus on selling F-16s to Turkey.

“Those conversations are ongoing,” Price said Monday.

Russian state-controlled media TASS initially reported Tuesday that Turkey and Russia had signed a contract for the second regiment that would allow Turkey to produce some components domestically, citing Dmitry Shugayev, head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation. The contract was being worked out, Shugayev told TASS.

“There are no new agreements,” a Turkish official told Reuters, adding that talks were “under way.”

Turkey refused to participate in Western sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and has mediated between the warring countries to  secure safe exports of grain and fertilizer through the Black Sea.

The Turkish and Russian presidential offices did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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