Mattis: ‘US does not recommend’ Turkey buys Russian missile defense system
“Turkey had a choice to make, a sovereign decision to make. But clearly Turkey bringing a Russian anti-aircraft, anti-missile system into a NATO country, we cannot integrate that into NATO,” Mattis said. “Yes, it does concern us and we do not recommend that.”
The US blocked the sale of American-made F-35 jet fighters to Turkey earlier this month in response to Ankara’s decision to purchase the Russian-made S-400 air defense system. However, Turkey intends to press ahead with the purchase, and already made the first payment for the system last year. Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport said that the first batch of S-400 systems will be delivered to Turkey next year.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended his decision to buy from Russia, arguing that the US has turned down his requests for more hardware for years.
“Are we going to depend on the U.S. again?” the Turkish strongman said in June. “When we have been demanding from them for years, the answer that has been given to us is: The [U.S.] Congress is not allowing.”
At the time, Erdogan added that he fully intended to put the new defense systems to use. “We will not just buy the S-400s and place them in a storehouse. We will use them if need be,” he said. “This is a defense system. What are we going to do with it if not use this defense system?”
The deepening rift between the US and Turkey over the S-400 has been exacerbated by Turkey’s continued detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. Brunson has been held in Turkey since 2016 over alleged involvement in the failed coup attempt against Erdogan’s government, and is facing 35 years in prison.
As the war of words over Brunson escalated, US President Donald Trump doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkish imports up to 50 and 20 percent respectively earlier this month. Ankara retaliated by raising tariffs on 22 American-made products, ranging from cars to tobacco and also filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the US move.
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