U.S. Got Enraged As Turkey Confirms No Backtracking On S-400 Deal With Russia
Ankara has been displaying determination with regard to the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense deal despite endless surprises by vociferous NATO members, particularly by the U.S., which have been resorting to the carrot and stick policy to subdue Turkey and make it abolish the deal with Moscow.
Alas, stakes are too high and the official Ankara under no duress will go against the deal as this would mean the loss of respect and above all billions of material and financial losses for Turkey. The Kremlin possesses lots of means to exert pressure on Ankara with which the relations are being normalized in the wake of jet crisis of the near future.
A source close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in response to U.S. acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan’s letter to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar quoted him as saying that the purchase from Moscow was a “done deal” and “there is no backtracking from that.” The comments were in response to a question about acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan’s letter to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar that laid out the steps to remove Turkey from the F-35 training program.
The same sources said that “some of the U.S. institutions do not want to take into consideration” the issues that Erdogan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump had previously mutually agreed on. They also said that Turkey’s suggestion of establishing a joint commission with the U.S. to examine the S-400 issue was “still on the table.”
Shanahan said in his letter sent to the Turkish Defense Ministry on June 7 that all Turkish pilots in the F-35 fighter jet program must leave the United States by July 31 and training for new pilots will be suspended. The time-table would allow pilots currently training on the F-35 to complete their training and for other pilots to be reassigned to other posts, Shanahan said. The letter said there were 34 students scheduled for F-35 training later this year.
“This training will not occur because we are suspending Turkey from the F-35 program; there are no longer requirements to gain proficiencies on the systems,” according to an attachment to the letter that is titled, “Unwinding Turkey’s Participation in the F-35 Program.”
In his letter, Shanahan also warned Ankara that its deal with Moscow risked undermining its ties to NATO, hurting the Turkish economy and creating over-dependence on Russia. “You still have the option to change course on the S-400,” Shanahan wrote.
Tensions between the United States and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Ankara set to begin receiving the advanced Russian surface-to-air missile system in July and this was confirmed by Sergey Chemezov, the chief of Russia’s Rostec defense and high-tech corporation.
“Russia will begin deliveries of the S-400 air defense missile system to Turkey in about two months,” he said. "Everything with the Turks is fine. I hope that as soon as about two months' time we shall start deliveries," Sergey Chemezov added.
The United States has already suspended deliveries of parts and services related to Turkey’s receipt of the multi-million dollar jets. Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the United States with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase Russia’s system.
U.S. officials advised Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400 system, arguing that the Russian-made system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge.
But Turkey has emphasized that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO operability and would not pose a threat to the alliance. Ankara said that it was Washington’s initial refusal to sell the Patriot missile system that led it to seek other offers, adding that Russia offered a better deal that included technology transfers.
Erdogan said on June 4 the United States had yet to give Turkey an “offer as good as the S-400s.”
Turkey's Defence Ministry reacted to a Pentagon letter on Ankara’s planned purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems by emphasizing “strategic partnership” and “cooperation on security” between the two countries.
“The letter expresses an expectation for finding a solution to current problems within the framework of strategic partnership and in a way that would protect the extensive cooperation on security,” the statement said.
Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan sent the letter to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on June 6, saying the U.S. was preparing to take serious steps against Turkey’s planned purchase of the S-400 missile defense system.
The Pentagon said that Turkey’s participation in the U.S.’s F-35 fighter jets program would be suspended from 31 July if the purchase went ahead.
The letter also said the Turkish pilots being trained in the U.S. as part of the program would have to return to Turkey and those new pilots would not be trained.
Shanahan said the U.S. was determined to impose the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions if Turkey purchased the missile system.
Opposition media viewed the letter as a response to the failed talks between the two countries on Turkey’s planned purchase of the S-400, which the U.S. and NATO have repeatedly expressed concern over.
Turkish government officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have said it was "out of the question" for Ankara to "step back" from the deal.
“The step that we have taken regarding the S-400 issue is certain. There is an agreement with Russia and we are determined. It is out of the question that we take step back from it,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.
The US and Turkey need each other, despite having differences over a few issues, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran told a panel at New York's Harvard Club as part of a visit by a Turkish delegation to the U.S.
Earlier this week, the delegation made up of Cagri Erhan, a member of the Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Committee, and journalist and academic Bora Bayraktar, visited Washington, where they held discussions at the House of Representatives for two days on US-Turkish relations as well as Turkey's Silk Road initiative called the Middle Corridor.
In Syria, the U.S. supported the PYD/YPG, despite Turkey repeatedly raising security concerns after the announced withdrawal of American troops from the country in February, saying the pullout would give room for the terrorist group to expand operations.
Another standing issue is the FETO terrorist organization. Turkey has repeatedly called on the U.S. to extradite its leader, Fetullah Gulen, to Turkey to face trial for attempting to undermine the government by orchestrating the 15 July 2016 coup attempt.
"FETO is a big threat for us. Not only for us, but they are also a big threat for the countries they are active in," Kiran said.
Despite being divided over a few issues of national security and defense, Kiran said he was hopeful for the future of US-Turkish relations.
"We are here to give a chance to diplomacy and dialogue because we believe that the United States needs Turkey and Turkey needs the United States," Kiran said.
Erhan, who is also rector of Altinbas University in Istanbul, noted that Turkish-American relations are mostly based on military contacts and the two sides should engage more in other sectors in order to boost their alliance.
"I think we have to strengthen more bilateral academic, cultural and business ties," Erhan said.
Kiran also mentioned that US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to work towards increasing the trade volume between the two countries to 75bn dollars.
Bayraktar, for his part, criticized the US approach to the Middle East, saying that Washington gave special status to some countries over others.