Turkey defiant over possible US arms sanctions following Russian missile purchase

Turkey defiant over possible US arms sanctions following Russian missile purchase
Turkey has said it will go ahead with the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system despite US warnings that a joint fighter jet programme will be halted.
2 min read
Turkish President Erdogan inspects ammunition designed for the F-35 fighter plane in 2018 (Anadolu)

Turkey on Sunday dismissed US threats of sanctions if it went ahead with a planned purchase of a missile system from Russia, saying it would not renege on a pledge to Moscow.

Washington has warned its NATO ally for months that Ankara's adoption of Russian S-400 missile technology alongside US F-35 fighter planes would pose a threat to the jets and endanger Western defence.

The US has said it will halt a joint F-35 programme with Turkey if it acquires the Russian missile defence system. A US law furthermore provides for sanctions on any country concluding arms deals with Russian companies.

"The US threats of sanctions shows that they don't know Turkey," Vice President Fuat Oktay told Turkish Kanal 7 television.

"The decision on the S-400 has been taken. Once a pact has been signed, one's word given, Turkey respects it," he said.

The S-400 purchase is one dispute fuelling tensions between Turkey and the US.

The two nations are also at odds over US support for Syrian Kurdish militias which Ankara brands as terrorists and Turkish backing for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Ankara said the first deliveries of the S-400 are scheduled for June or July. On Wednesday, Turkish media reported that US President Donald Trump is expected to visit Turkey in July, despite the dispute over the missile system.

Last month, after repeated warnings, the United States said Turkey's decision to buy the S-400 system was incompatible with it remaining part of the emblematic F-35 jet programme.

Turkey had planned to buy 100 F-35A fighter jets, with pilots already training in the United States.

Washington has placed a freeze on the joint manufacturing operations with Turkey, and  suggested Ankara might be able to obtain a US missile defence system if it forgoes the one on offer from Moscow.

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