Ankara has told the United States that it is willing to purchase its Patriot missile system following the delivery of Russia’s S-400 missile system if the US offers a deal as lucrative as that offered by Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday.
Standing outside the newly-built Camlica Mosque in Istanbul following his attendance of the Eid prayer, Erodgan stated that the “there can be no talk of Turkey withdrawing from its deal with Moscow. We are in agreement, we are determined.”
The announcement of Turkey’s continuation of the process of acquiring the S-400 missile system comes amid months of tension and diplomatic clashes between the US and Turkey, and is the latest in the long ongoing dispute in which America has halted the sale of its renowned F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
In 2017, Ankara brokered a worth $2.5 billion deal with Moscow for the S-400 system, ignoring warnings from the US that purchasing the system would come with political and economic consequences.
The US claims that the Russian system is technologically incompatible with its F-35 jets, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo having told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing in April that “it is not possible to both fly the F-35 in space where the S-400 is significantly operable.”
The preference of the S-400 system and the deal with Russia has called into question Turkey’s role in NATO, where it boasts the second largest standing army in the alliance. Many fear the introduction of the Russian system would compromise the security, defence and territorial integrity of the countries within NATO.
On 22 May, the US allegedly presented Turkey with a two-week ultimatum to choose between both missile defence systems. If Turkey refused to cancel the S-400 deal, the US threatened that it will cancel the sale of the F-35 fighter jets as well as Turkey’s role as one of the manufacturers in the jet’s supply chain.
The deadline for the ultimatum, which Turkey has claimed was not given officially, is set for the end of this week and has prompted fears of possible sanctions to be enforced by the US on Ankara.