S-400 deal pushes US-Turkey relations to impasse

(VOVWORLD) - Turkey said on Wednesday it has purchased S-400 air defense systems from Russia, ignoring US warnings. The deal is likely to ratchet up US-Turkey tensions and their cooperative projects may be frozen indefinitely.
S-400 deal pushes US-Turkey relations to impasse - ảnh 1(Photo: Sputnik) 

Ankara signed a 2.5 billion USD contract to buy S-400 missiles from Russia in 2017. Turkey hopes they will be delivered later this year.

Strong pressure from Washington

Since Turkey first announced its intention, it has faced strong pressure from the US. Washington has issued warnings to discourage Ankara from closing the deal.

The US Congress on Monday adopted a resolution asking the government to impose sanctions on Turkey and calling on Turkey to abandon the deal with Russia. The resolution condemned the contract, saying it would impact the US-Turkey coalition and weaken NATO. Last week Undersecretary of Defense Ellen Lord said if Turkey doesn’t scrap the deal, all Turkish F-35 students and instructor pilots currently in the US will be required to leave. The US will also terminate contracts with Turkish sub-contractors in the F-35 program.

This would be a blow to Turkey’s plans to buy more than 100 F-35 fighter jets for 9 billion USD. Turkey produces 937 parts for the jets. Removing Turkey from the program would cause a great rift in the Turkey-US alliance.

Experts say Turkey might now be excluded from important NATO military events for security reasons. US Vice President Mike Pence on April 3 said Turkey may be expelled from NATO if it follows through with the S-400 deal. The US on May 16 terminated Turkey’s preferential trade status, saying Turkey is no longer a developing country. Some of Turkey’s exports will no longer be allowed to enter the US duty free.

The S-400 defense system is capable of identifying and shooting down any modern aircraft, particularly the F-35. Major Daniel Flatley of the US Air Force recently said the S-400 can track F-35 stealth fighter jets. Something that worries the US is that Turkey says it will use the S-400 to build a defense system separate from NATO’s defense shield.

Unstoppable Turkey

Since the beginning, the Turkish government has never indicated it would shut down the S-400 deal. President Erdogan has often reiterated his determination to possess the Russian defense system to protect Turkey’s skies. He says NATO and EU borders are protected and criticism of Turkey’s external affairs is unwarranted. Erdogan says he reached an agreement with Russia while seeking defense systems to defend Turkey’s borders and not receiving support from allies. The US provided 22,000 to 23,000 armored vehicles to other allies, but not to Turkey, even though Ankara was willing to pay.

The US-Turkey relationship has grown tense over Syria, sanctions on Iran, and an American diplomat’s arrest in Turkey. The S-400 defense system deal might be the worst factor affecting their relationship.

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