Acting U.S. Protection Secretary Mark Esper produced it clear to Turkey on Wednesday that it will face economic sanctions if it goes forward with the purchase of a Russian missile defense system, as the standoff between the 2 NATO allies dragged on.
Esper met with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar throughout a NATO meeting, delivering a familiar U.S. message: If Turkey buys the Russian S-400 system, it will not be allowed to buy the high-tech F-35 fighter jet. The meeting, however, ended without discernable results.
Turkey has declared that it won’t bow to U.S. ultimatums and that the S-400 investment is a done deal. The U.S. has frequently declared that the Russian system is a threat to the fighter jet and that Turkey will be dropped from the F-35 program if this buys the S-400. U.S. officials have encouraged Turkey to buy the American-made Patriot missile defense system instead.
The U.S. has already stopped training Turkish pilots on the F-35 and also given Ankara until the end of July to get it is personnel out of the U.S.
U.S. officials stated Esper also told Akar during the meeting that until Turkey takes possession of the Russian system, there’s an opportunity to turn things around.
“If NATO allies are now imposing sanctions on each other, I don’t know anything about that,” Erdogan said. “These are not impressions I got from the talks I have had with Mr. Trump until now .”
Erdogan has declared that the training of Turkish personnel on the S-400 is finished and that the delivery of the system will take place in the first fifteen days of next month. He stated he also hopes to use the Trump meeting to dissuade the U.S. from striking sanctions.