'Washington is blackmailing Ankara because Turkey is becoming a key independent regional player, President Erdogan said, after US threats to block all advanced weapon supplies to its NATO ally if it buys the S-400 off Russia.
The US will not supply the 100 F-35 stealth jets that Turkey has already purchased, nor will it consider selling surface-to-air missile Patriot systems to its NATO ally if Turkey deploys the Russian S-400 air defense complexes, the Pentagon stipulated on Saturday. Replying to the latest American threats, Erdogan noted that Washington’s pressure was due to Turkey’s increasingly independent courses of action when it comes to national defense and regional affairs.
“Everyone knows that this issue has nothing to do with either NATO and the F-35 project nor the security of the US,” Recep Erdogan said Saturday. “The issue is not about S-400. It is because Turkey takes action of its own will regarding regional developments, particularly in Syria.”
Turkey insists that diversifying its weapons suppliers and reinforcing its air and missile defenses, with the Syrian war still unfolding on its borders and following the 2016 military coup attempt, are vital to its national security. Ankara had mulled the purchase of the US-made Patriot systems, but Russia offered better terms with no strings attached for its superior S-400 – an offer the client could not refuse.
The US continues to threaten Turkey with consequences in the form of various sanctions if it goes ahead with the $2.5 billion Russian deal. Washington sees the Russian system as a potential threat to its own weapons, particularly the F-35, insisting that NATO members should only purchase from within the bloc, to maintain ‘interoperability.’'
Read more: ‘Nothing to do with NATO or F35’: US pressure over S-400 is about Turkey’s sovereignty, Erdogan says
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