S400s, sanctions and defiance: explaining Turkey’s quest for strategic autonomy and the US response


The United States Congress enacted CAATSA in 2017 to impose various restrictions on traditional rivals of the United States, which, however, was also imposed on a long-term strategic ally, Turkey, in December 2020. How can the application of sanctions designated for strategic rivals and enemies on an ally be explained? This article incorporates the hierarchy theory with Kai He's negative balancing strategy notion, which provides a solid theoretical explanation for patron states' punitive measures against their allies. We argue that CAATSA is part of the United States' current negative balancing strategy, which aims to undermine the power of rising challengers, Russia and China, by preventing (Western) secondary states, includ- ing Turkey, from getting (nuclear) weapons from these two coun- tries. In this context, the US used CAATSA sanctions to punish Turkey's non-compliant and autonomous foreign policy behaviour when Russia and China rivalled the US-led order.


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