Ankara will stay on course to get the Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft system despite Washington’s carrot-and-stick offer of alternative Patriot missiles and threats to jeopardize other arms deals, a top Turkish MP has confirmed.
There will be no change to the multi-billion deal Moscow and Ankara inked back in 2017, according to Volkan Bozkir, head of Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee. Bozkir, who is in Washington this week, said purchasing the S-400 has nothing to do with Turkey’s plans to possibly buy the Patriots as well.
“With regard to Patriots, if the opportunity is at a level we desire, we have expressed we could also buy those too,” he stated. Expanding on that, the Turkish MP said Ankara had already paid most of the price for the S-400s and the weapons systems are expected to arrive in November.
The remark reiterates what senior Turkish officials have been repeatedly saying of the S-400 deal. But notably, it was made a day ahead of the informal deadline which Washington has reportedly set for Ankara. According to an unnamed American official cited by Reuters, the US wanted to know if Turkey will go ahead with their S-400 purchase by this Friday.
Turkey is in a somewhat precarious position as it continues to receive not-so-veiled threats from its NATO ally the US over the deal with Russia. Washington says if Ankara proceeds with the deal, an offer to sell $3.5 billion Raytheon-built Patriot missiles will be doomed. That offer expires at the end of March.
Patriots aside, the US has threatened to jeopardize the delivery of the F-35 stealth jets to the Turkish Air Force, arguing that the S-400 and the F-35 cannot operate within one military. Some American media claimed the S-400’s 96L6E radar could even provide a backdoor for Russia to study ways of detecting and shooting down the advanced stealth jet. There were reports that Turkey had offered the US to survey the Russian cutting-edge air defense systems, but those were denied by Turkish officials.
Bozkır rejected the notion that the two weapon systems are mutually exclusive.
“It is wrong to establish a direct link between the [deals on] S-400s and the F-35s. There are other NATO member countries with many Russian-made military products,” he said, adding there would be no flow of information between the two.