United States warns Turkey over Russian S-400 missile system deal

Posted April 05, 2019

A Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jet for Turkey arrived on Wednesday at the training facility at Luke Air Force Base amid a dispute with the United States over its planned purchase of a Russian missile system, an Air Force official said on Thursday.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met today with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during the NATO Ministerial.

"It's a done deal", Çavuşoğlu said during the "NATO Engages" event in Washington, D.C., to mark the alliance's 70th anniversary.

Washington responded earlier this week by suspending Turkey´s participation in the F-35 fighter-jet programme, in which Turkey has invested over $1 billion.

"It seems that there is no clear strategy yet" by the U.S.to dial back its military presence in Syria, Cavusoglu said in an interview with PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff.

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The United States hopes to find a way out of the dispute by convincing Turkey to purchase the US -made Patriot air defense system.

Turkey has continued to maintain that it has the right under global law to defend against national security threats including any potential danger posed in northern Syria. "Does it want to remain Turkey's ally or risk our friendship by joining forces with terrorists to undermine its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally's defense against its enemies?"

The US said on Monday that it was halting shipment of F-35 parts to Turkey as well as joint manufacturing work due to Ankara's purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russian Federation.

"We don't see our relations with Russian Federation as an alternative to our relations with others and nobody, neither West nor Russian Federation, should or can ask us to choose between", he added.

Turkey has engaged with USA negotiators in recent days about buying the Patriot system, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

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Ankara has been establishing closer links with Russian Federation after recent souring of its ties with the USA and Europe. "Sure. But I wish we would have heard more about what Germany has done for our collective security", including deploying troops to the new task forces in the Baltics.

While US lawmakers have threatened in the past to block the delivery of the fighter jets to Turkey, the decision this week was the first concrete move from the Pentagon to do so.

As a result, US government leaders have repeatedly threatened to shut down Turkey's participation in the F-35 program if the Russian purchase goes through.

But acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Tuesday that he expected Turkey's F-35s to ultimately be delivered and was optimistic that Ankara would purchase the Patriot instead.

Washington has warned that proceeding with the deal could result in USA sanctions and the exclusion of Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program.

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In order to prevent the PKK and its extensions from tightening their grip in northeast Syria and disrupting peace efforts in the region, Turkey aims to accelerate the Manbij process that was launched in June with the U.S. As part of the deal, Turkey and the U.S. agreed to work on the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij.