A series of hostile moves between the United States and Turkey began after Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defence systems and the country’s operation in northern Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that Ankara could seek to shut down the Incirlik airbase if the US were to move forward with imposing sanctions against Turkey.
“It is important for both sides that the US does not take irrevocable measures… Turkey will, of course, respond to any US sanctions. If needed, we will close both Incirlik and Kurecik”, he said.
Prior to this, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in an interview aired on 11 December on the A Haber television station, warned that Turkey could seek to shut down the Incirlik airbase and the Kurecik radar station.
On 11 December, the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill on sanctioning Turkey through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The sanctions, if passed by the Senate and enacted by the president, may include freezing Turkey’s assets, restricting visas, and limiting access to credit.
Turkey has repeatedly expressed its commitment to the acquisition of the S-400s, which are expected to become fully operational in the country by April 2020, despite the US objections.
The delivery of the first batch of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems to Turkey began in July and ended in October. Washington fears that the weaponry is incompatible with NATO security standards and might compromise the operation of US-made F-35 fighter jets. Turkey has insisted that it will continue to accept further deliveries of the S-400 systems. The second batch may be delivered by the end of next year.