On May 3, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Washington has “serious concerns about Turkey’s potential acquisition” of the S-400 anti-aircraft systems that are planned to deliver from Russia.
“Under NATO and under the NATO agreement, which of course, Turkey is a NATO member, you’re only supposed to buy, they are only supposed to buy, weapons and other materiel that are interoperable with other NATO partners. We don’t see that as being interoperable,” Nauert said during a press briefing.
The notion of halting weapons sales has been put forward in the proposed US National Defense Authorization Act. If the act becomes a law, it will force the US Department of Defense to provide Congress with a report on the military cooperation between the US and Turkey and will block weapons sales to Turkey.
Turkey plans to buy more than 100 of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, and is also in talks with Washington over the purchase of Patriot missiles. These contracts will be frozen in this case.
The S-400 deal between Turkey and Russia was signed in December, 2017. The delivery of S-400 systems to Turkey is scheduled to start in 2020. However, in March Moscow stated its readiness to speed up the process.
It should be noted that Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu stressed that Ankara would retaliate if Washington stops the sale of US weapons over Turkish-Russian military hardware deals.
“If the United States imposes sanctions on us or takes such a step, Turkey will absolutely retaliate,” Cavusoglu said. “What needs to be done is the U.S. needs to let go of this.”
Cavusoglu pointed out that the US sanctions would be “wrong” and “illogical” and Washington “should give up this approach”.
“Turkey is not a country under your orders, it is an independent country… speaking to such a country from above, dictating what it can and cannot buy, is not a correct approach and does not fit our alliance,” Cavusoglu said, referring to the fact that both countries are members of NATO.
The hotly discussed Turkey-Russia deal signals closer relations between both powers, as well as a growing rift between Ankara and Washington.