UPDATE - New US Legislation To Sanction Turkey For S-400, Russians For Ties With Syria - Draft

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 04th December, 2019) The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee scheduled for next week deliberations on legislation that would penalize Turkey's government for purchasing Russian-made S-400 air defense systems and sanction yet to be determined Russian individuals who are engaged in defense cooperation with Syria, the panel's website said.

The bill co-sponsored by Committee's chairman James Risch is on the agenda of the meeting to be held on December 11.

The legislation obligates the US Secretary of State to prepare regularly lists of Russian individuals who "knowingly export, transfer, or otherwise provide to Syria significant financial, material, or technological support that contributes materially to the ability of the Government of Syria to acquire defense articles, defense services, and related information."

"A Russian person identified on the list... shall be subject to the same sanctions as a person included on the list of specially designated nationals and blocked persons maintained by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Department of the Treasury," the proposed legislation reads.

The bill also declares Turkey's acquisition of the S-400 as "a significant transaction" under Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act and requires the US president to impose five or more of the CAATSA sanctions on the Turkish government.

According to the draft, it should happen not later than 30 days after the date the legislation is enacted. It envisages additional sanctions, including arms sales restrictions and opposition to loans from international financial institutions, over Turkey's recent military campaign in northern Syria against Kurdish militias, longtime allies of the United States.

Earlier this week US Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telling him that patience with Turkey had long expired and urged the administration to apply CAATSA sanctions.

The issue also popped up on Tuesday when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was grilling State Department's top officials over relations with Russia. In his testimony Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford admitted that "a deliberative process" on sanctioning Turkey was still underway and reminded that it had taken about eight months to apply CAATSA sanctions on the Chinese defense procurement entity for purchasing in S-400 and Sukhoi fighter jets.

"That is indeed the precedent here. It took about eight months to do that, rather longer than 144 days [that have passed since Turkey bought S-400]. The deliberative process with regard to Turkey is still underway," he said.

Last month Turkey tested S-400 radars against American-made F-16 fighter jets, infuriating US senators. The S-400 systems have been supplied from Russia since mid-July and are expected to become fully operational by April 2020. The US insists that the S-400 is incompatible with NATO security standards and tries to pressure Ankara into removing it from service. It suspended Turkey's participation in the F-35 program in July and threatens to completely remove the country from the fifth generation stealth fighter project.