Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the U.S. wants Turkey not to make “operational” the Russian S-400 missile system it purchased from Moscow.
“There could be more sanctions to follow but frankly what we’d really like is for the S-400 not to become operational,” Pompeo told Bloomberg Television. “That’s our objective. It’s what we’ve been talking to the Turks about for months and months.”
“They’ve taken delivery of some of the components today and we’re urging them to reconsider that decision,” Pompeo said. He said they’ve “made clear to the Turks that the activation of the S-400 is unacceptable.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, had told Defense One on Thursday that he had spoken with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu the day before at the request of the President.
“I’m in the camp of, if they don’t activate the S-400, the sanctions don’t have to be applied. My hope is to persuade Turkey not to active the system because it’s so disruptive to the relationship,” Graham said. “My pitch to Turkey was, let’s stand down on the S-400, let’s start free trade agreement negotiations.”
The State Department had repeatedly warned that “Turkey will face very real and very negative consequences if it completes the delivery of the S-400.”
Trump has repeatedly voiced reluctance to penalize Turkey over its purchase of the S-400, doing so last week when announcing Ankara’s removal from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Turkey’s expulsion is slated to be completed by the end of March 2020.