Turkey Sanctions Dropped From New 2023 US Defense Budget Bill

Since 2020, following the delivery of S-400 systems to Russia, the US Congress has systematically integrated into the laws governing annual US defense spending, the ban on the executive to lift the technological sanctions imposed on Ankara. It was then a question of limiting the capacity to circumvent the veto posed by Congress by the Trump administration, which is quite reluctant in this area, and rather inclined to more flexibility vis-à-vis Turkey and its president. RT Erdogan. The same provision was included in the National Defense Authorization Act 2022, while the new administration of Joe Biden, too, wanted the partial lifting of sanctions against Ankara, in particular with regard to the acquisition of 40 new F-16 Vs and 80 kits to convert part of the F-16 Block 52 of the Turkish Air Force to this standard, to the great displeasure of RT Erdogan who threatened several times to turn to other partners, Russia being regularly cited on this subject.

The Russian offensive against Ukraine from February 2022, however, has considerably changed the situation in this area. Not, moreover, that Ankara has changed its very ambiguous posture vis-à-vis Moscow, supporting Ukraine militarily on the one hand by delivering drones and armored vehicles, but also serving as a means of circumventing sanctions Western markets for Moscow, whether for the export of hydrocarbons or for the supply of certain critical technologies, particularly in terms of semiconductors. Nor that President Erdogan has softened his ambitions, in the Caucasus, in Syria and in Iraq against the Kurds, or even in the Aegean Sea, against Greece and Cyprus. But obviously, some arguments carried to the Capitol, since as the Turkish press welcomes today, the clauses referring to American technological sanctions have disappeared from the new NDAA which is the subject of a bipartisan agreement, and which must quickly be voted on by the American Congress.

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Although the disappearance of these restrictions will allow the American executive to enter into negotiations with Ankara to respond to the demands of the Turkish armies and industrialists, in particular with regard to the modernization of the fighter fleet, this in no way constitutes a strict lifting of sanctions. In effect, authorizations for the export of American arms and defense technologies remain the strict prerogative of Congress, and nothing says that the one here will validate Ankara's demands, especially in the short term. It is, on the other hand, a greater flexibility offered to the American negotiators, to begin discussions with their counterparts on this subject, in particular to obtain certain strict concessions from Ankara, for example with regard to the accession from Sweden and Finland to NATO, or concerning the implementation of the S-400 battery acquired by Ankara and delivered in 2020 by Russia.

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