US gives Turkey until July 31 to backtrack on Russian S-400 missile deal
The United States gave Turkey time until July 31 to backtrack on Russian S-400 missile deal, news agency AFP reported. Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan has sent a list to the Turkish defence minister describing actions that the United States will take in order to suspend Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme by July 31 if the NATO ally goes through with its acquisition of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defence systems.
Meanwhile, the head of state-owned defence conglomerate Rostec said on Friday that Russia will begin delivering S-400 air defence systems to Turkey in two months.
"Everything is on track with the Turks. I hope that we will begin to deliver in about two months," Sergei Chemezov told NTV channel, according to Russian agencies.
"The credit money has been spent, the technology was produced. And we completed training of all the military personnel," he said.
Turkey's S-400 purchase has ruffled feathers in the US, and Pentagon officials warned of "devastating consequences" for the NATO member which also plans to buy F-35 fighters from the US.
Washington wanted Turkey to opt for American Patriot missiles instead of the S-400 system, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Russia made a better proposal.
He said this week Turkey was "determined" to buy from Russia. Russian agencies reported that the purchase concerns four systems valued at USD 2.5 billion.
"We have made an agreement (with Russia). We are determined. There is nothing like backtracking from that," Erdogan was quoted as saying by the official Anadolu news agency.
Ankara's desire to buy the Russian S400 system has been a major source of contention between NATO allies Turkey and the United States, which has threatened sanctions.
Last week, a top Pentagon official said the consequences would be "devastating" for Turkey's joint F-35 fighter programme and its cooperation with NATO if the country goes ahead with plans to buy the Russian missile defence system.
(With agency inputs)