In a bold move, Turkey announced the purchase of advanced missile defense systems from Moscow. This decision could force America to deny Ankara F-35 fighter jets.
Citing Turkey’s NTV, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he expects Russia to start delivering S-400 missile defense systems as early as July.
Turkey’s ambitions to purchase the S-400 system has constrained relations between NATO members. The US is concerned that the sale could provide Russia with access to sensitive technical data if it is operated adjacently to US fighter jets. The country could be facing crippling economic sanctions if it carries out the exchange.
“We discussed the S-400 subject with Russia. Indeed the S-400 issue is settled,” Erdogan said to journalists upon returning from Tajikistan. There, he met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“I think they will start to come in the first half of July,” Erdogan explained.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu threatened that they would “respond” if the US enacts sanctions on Ankara over the plan to buy the defense system.
“If the United States takes any negative actions toward us, we will also take reciprocal steps,” Cavusoglu told reporters when asked about sanctions. The statement was translated by Reuters of an interview that aired on Turkish TV.
US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan penned a letter to his Turkish counterpart saying that the training of Turkish pilots will be halted on July 31. He added that Turkey would not be permitted to take final possession of the F-35 jets it had purchased.