Washington/Moscow: The dispute between the United States and Turkey over the purchase of the S-400 air defence system from Russia has exacerbated. “Turkey should choose between buying US F-16 fighter jets and Russian S-400 missile systems till the end of July,” warned Acting US Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan adding that Turkey had to be prepared for the consequences if not complied. However, Russia has declared that the S-400 will reach Turkey within the next two months.
US Secretary of Defence Shanahan, in his letter, addressed to the Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, issued an ultimatum. He warned that Turkey should exit the agreement with Russia. US Secretary of State, Shanahan has said in the letter that if Turkey gives preference to the purchase of S-400 despite the US warning, Turkey will be omitted from all the cooperation regarding the F-35 fighter jets. At the same time, the US Secretary of Defence has clarified that the United States would not supply F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
Turkey had signed an agreement for the purchase of F-35 fighter jets, technological cooperation and pilot training, with the United States. But Shanahan lashed out that no pilot training will be imparted if Turkey disregarded the US suggestion. Secretary of State Shanahan warned that the Turkish pilots who are in the United States, for training, will be expelled if Turkey did not accept the US proposal before the end of July.
It is said that there is a substantive reason behind the warning issued by the US Secretary of Defence to Turkey. The United States has criticised that the Russian S-400 air defence system that Turkey is purchasing is a threat to the United States and the other NATO countries. It is worrying that the S-400 system would target the US F-35. The United States has claimed that such a situation, the F-35s deployed in the Gulf and Japan will be under threat.
The US Secretary of State lashed out at Turkey saying that the purchase of the Russian S-400 system by Turkey, a NATO member, is blowing up the cooperation with the United States and the European countries. Against this background, Turkey should withdraw from Russian collaboration. The US Secretary of Defence also reprimanded that Turkey cannot buy Russian S-400 system and the US F-35 fighter jets, at the same time. US secretary of Defence warned that if Turkey does not decide in the next two months, Turkey should be ready for the consequences.
But Turkey is not willing to back out from the purchase of S-400 from Russia. Turkey has taken a stand to remain firm on the purchase despite the US threat, whereas, Russia has clarified that it will be supplying the S-400 system to Turkey. Russian company Rostec said that the S-400 would be provided to Turkey in the next two months.
Meanwhile, the US analysts are expressing a possibility that if Turkey does not accept the US proposal until the end of July, the US will impose sanctions against Turkey. The Turkish economy is already going through a crisis since the last one year. The Erdogan government had felt its effects during the local elections. In such a scenario, US sanctions can further weaken the Turkish economy.