Turkey will not bow to mounting US pressure to drop its planned purchase of Russia’s S-400, and will even buy more of them if Washington doesn’t sell its Patriot systems. Ankara will also look into alternatives for US F-35 jets, ONA reports quoting Russian Today.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that if Washington refused to sell Turkey its Raytheon-made Patriot air defense system, or canceled planned orders of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter, it would look elsewhere for alternatives. He added that a proposition Ankara made to NATO ministers last week over the possible formation of a technical group to address the bloc’s concerns over the S-400 purchase, did not get a positive response.
Cavusoglu’s defense of the S-400 deal comes after President Erdogan suggested that the delivery for the systems could be brought forward from their scheduled arrival in July. Speaking to the media on his return from bilateral talks in Moscow, Erdogan noted that the issue of the S-400 sale had gained much international interest and Turkish ministers were constantly being asked about any changes in position Ankara may have over the sale.
“We answer that ‘this deal is done, everything is settled,’” Erdogan said. “Maybe it can be brought forward.”
Inked in a $2.5 billion agreement with Moscow since in December 2017, NATO-member Turkey has been under increased pressure from allies in the US to abandon the S-400 purchase. Washington argues that the system is incompatible with existing NATO systems and also fears the deal could compromise the security of its F-35 stealth fighters, of which Turkey is a program partner.
Turkey has been unyielding to US concerns, even after F-35 deliveries were suspended by the US State Department at the start of April in an effort to end the deal.
On Tuesday, the US Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committee upped the rhetoric against the S-400 sale, warning Turkey that the buy risked the implementation of sanctions. Senators said that by the end of the year, Turkey would have either the S-400 or the F-35. “It would not have both.”