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Blinken says Turkey and others should refrain from buying Russian weapons




US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Turkey and all of its US allies should refrain from buying more Russian weapons at the risk of more sanctions being imposed.

The frayed relationship between the United States and NATO ally Turkey was put to the test this weekend after President Joe Biden recognized the Armenian massacres of 1915 as genocide, infuriating Ankara.

Mr Blinken said given Mr Biden’s long-standing views on the Armenian issue, his decision should not have come as a surprise.

He also reiterated that Turkey was a key NATO ally and expressed hope that the two sides could resolve their issues.

But he warned Ankara and others not to buy more military equipment from Russia. Turkey said it was in talks with Russia for a second batch of S-400 air defense missiles.

“All major transactions with Russian defense entities, again, could be subject to the law, to CAATSA, and that’s separate and in addition to the penalties that have already been imposed,” Blinken said.

He was referring to the law called Countering Americas Adversaries through Sanctions Act, which aims to dissuade countries from buying military equipment from Russia.

US-Turkish relations have been strained over issues such as Turkey’s purchase of S-400, making it a target for US sanctions, and policy differences on Syria, human rights and a US court case centered on Turkey’s majority state-owned Halkbank.

In December, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey for buying Russia’s air defense system.

Ankara expressed anger that Kurdish American armed YPG fighters in Syria failed to extradite a cleric living in the United States, whom Turkey accused of orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016 .

Biden, during his first call as president with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, told him about his decision on the Armenian genocide.

Mr Blinken said the two leaders had a “good conversation” and that Mr Biden was looking forward to meeting Mr Erdogan in June at the NATO summit.

The Turkish presidential spokesman said on Sunday that Mr Biden’s declaration of genocide was “simply outrageous” and that Turkey would respond in the months to come.

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