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US to Turkey: Do not operate Russian missile systems to avoid sanctions

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The United States will avoid sanctions on Turkey if it does not operate a Russian S-400 missile system, a US official said Friday.

US President Donald Trump on Friday lifted sanctions imposed on Turkey after launching a military operation against US-backed Kurdish forces that created a crisis between the two NATO allies.

But the tension is not over, as Turkey still faces the threat of sanctions for buying the S-400 missile system from Russia despite its membership in the Western Alliance.

A State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters: “There are probably more sensible people in Ankara who say to God, don’t run (Russian missiles).”

The official said Ankara did not appear to have operated the system, which NATO fears will help Russia strengthen its ability to shoot down Western planes and missiles.

“There is still work to get the Turks away from the S400 whether they stop it, return it or destroy it,” the official said. “Ideally, they should not have received or received any of the S400 components, but now that line has been crossed , It’s how to close and neutralize this file and move forward.”

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to build closer ties with Russia, which has agreed to deploy troops in northern Syria to compensate for US troops withdrawn by US President Donald Trump earlier this month.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who is close to Trump, said he presented the idea directly to Turkey to avoid sanctions.

Under a law passed in 2017, the United States is required to impose sanctions on any country that conducts “major” operations to buy weapons from Washington’s adversaries, including Russia.

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