The United States could buy the Russian S-400 air defense systems from Turkey to cushion the blow and ease tensions between the two allies.
Last week, Senate Majority Whip John Thune, representing South Dakota, proposed amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would allow the S-400 purchase to be made using the U.S. Army’s missile procurement funds, Defense News reported today.
“I think the US buying the S-400s from Turkey is a clever way of getting Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan out of the jam he put himself in. We just want to get the system out of Turkey ... and if it enables the Turks to take part in the F-35 then all the better,” Jim Townsend, a former Pentagon official for European and NATO policy was quoted as saying by the report.
The U.S.-Turkey tensions nosedived after the latter bought the S-400 systems from Russia for $2.5 billion in 2017. Washington’s attempts to persuade Ankara to ditch the systems went in vain. Soon after Russia began shipping the S-400s to Turkey in July 2019, the U.S. struck off Turkey’s name from the list of F-35 program partners. It also declined to sell F-35 jets to Turkey citing security reasons.
In addition, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch has introduced a tougher amendment which envisages slapping Turkey with sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) 30 days after NDAA enters force.
Although Thune and Risch are both influential senators, there’s no guarantee either of their amendments would receive consideration to be included in the massive NDAA - or, if passed into the Senate bill, that they would survive negotiations with the House, the report said.