Turkey’s recent purchase of an advanced Russian anti-air weapons system may have violated a U.S. law that would require an automatic imposition of sanctions on the NATO member, a top Democratic lawmaker said today, Politico reports.
The letter, sent by Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin to Trump administration officials, warns that Ankara’s purchase of Moscow’s S-400 air defense system, which finalized on Tuesday, violates congressional sanctions against Russia signed into law last month.
The legislation imposes sanctions “on any person that conducts a significant transaction with the Russian Federation’s defense or intelligence sectors,” wrote Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Trump White House resisted the sanctions as a congressional intrusion on presidential diplomacy.
“These are mandatory sanctions and constitute a commitment by the United States to deter Russia from attacking the United States and its allies in the future,” said Cardin’s letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
“As a U.S. ally, it is unfortunate that Turkey has appeared to align itself with Moscow during this critical time,” Cardin added.
The S-400 is Russia’s most advanced anti-air missile system and was originally designed to intercept U.S. strategic aircraft. It has a range of nearly 250 miles and can reportedly hit 80 targets at once.