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Turkey Defends Its Relationship to Russia

Oct. 26, 2019 (EIRNS)—Turkey’s relationship with Russia was apparently a very contentious issue at the NATO defense ministers meeting which just concluded in Brussels. According to a report in Reuters, Spain was even threatening to withdraw the Patriot air defense battery that it has deployed in Turkey, in response to Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, but ultimately ended up offering to renew the deployment for another six months. “There’s a concerted effort not to make things worse,” one NATO diplomat told Reuters. “Turkey, after Trump, has put a renewed strain on the Alliance. But Turkey is too important to lose.”

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar maintained a defiant tone during the North Atlantic Council dinner on Oct. 24, declaring that Turkey had the same right to strike deals with Russia as it did with the United States. As much anger as there was over the S-400 deal, shaking the rafters at NATO headquarters even more might be the report in Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah, yesterday, that Turkey and Russia are in talks for the Russian sale of Su-35 fighter jets to Turkey. Such a possibility was first mooted when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Russian President Vladimir Putin at this past summer’s MAKS airshow outside of Moscow. Putin showed Erdogan both the Su-57 stealth fighter and the Su-35. Daily Sabah cited Turkish sources reporting that Turkey is close to reaching a deal with Moscow over the purchase of 36 Su-35 fighter jets as well as co-manufacturing some components of the Russian-made jets, including its precision weapons and ammunition.

Though there’s no confirmation from the Russian side—TASS reported that the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Dmitry Shugayev said on Oct. 24 that Putin and Erdogan did not discuss the deliveries of Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets to Turkey at their Oct. 22 meeting in Sochi—the Daily Sabah report comes in the aftermath of the U.S. decision to remove Turkey from the F-35 program because of its purchase of the S-400 from Russia. Turkish military contractors were heavily involved in producing parts for the F-35, including major components of its engine and cockpit displays.

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