U.S. Threatens Turkey on Acquisition of Russia’s S-400 Defense System
April 3, 2019 (EIRNS)—Washington is ramping up the pressure on the Turkish government, to force it back out of its commitment to buy the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
Yesterday, the Pentagon confirmed that it had suspended delivery of equipment and parts related to the F-35 stealth aircraft, which Turkey wants to buy, and won’t resume those deliveries until Turkey abandons its plans to purchase the S-400.
In an April 2 briefing, a senior State Department official threatened that Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 “will result in a reassessment of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program, and risk other potential future arms transfers as well as potentially trigger sanctions by the U.S.”
Turkey, a NATO member, had intended to purchase 100 F-35s, but there is no indication it intends to back out of the S-400 purchase. The U.S.’s complaint, National Public Radio reported, is that the S-400 is designed to detect and shoot down stealth fighters like the F-35. The claim is that the S-400, with its powerful radar, could help Moscow discover the secrets and vulnerabilities of the F-35 that Turkey wants to acquire.
Speaking today in Washington at an event organized by the Atlantic Council, the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., and the Munich Security Conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 is “a done deal, and we will not step back.” He said that Turkey had an urgent need for missile defense, given threats in the region, and that NATO “is not capable enough to cover our airspace yet.”
Cavusoglu also said that mixed signals coming from the U.S.—from different institutions and different agencies of government—indicate that the U.S. doesn’t have a coherent strategy when it comes to Syria. He also rejected the U.S. argument that the S-400 is incompatible with the NATO system. “It doesn’t have to be integrated into the NATO system,” he said. “This isn’t our aim.... This is for our own use.” He emphasized that Turkey is a sovereign country, however, and seeks to have good relations with all countries.