A US delegation visited the country midweek to present Washington’s terms to Turkish defense and foreign ministry officials. The contract put together by the Americans included a prerequisite, according to which the Patriot missile defense systems will only be supplied to Ankara if it gives up its deal to buy Russian air defense systems, Yeni Safak reported.
In December, the US State Department approved the sale of 80 Patriot missiles and 60 other missiles, along with launching stations, radars and other equipment, to Turkey, which it called an important ally.
The Turkish government, which had been long trying to acquire the Patriots, got frustrated with the US for not selling them the missiles “when they were needed the most.”
In 2017, Ankara signed a contract with Russia to buy the more advanced S-400 air defense systems. Their installation is expected to begin in Turkey in October this year.
The move caused outrage in the US as Washington claimed that the use of Russian hardware by a NATO state like Turkey endangers the whole bloc. The US Congress delayed the shipment of 100 F-35 fighter jets to Turkey in retaliation.
However, Ankara has been reluctant to give in to the American pressure. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted that the S-400 purchase was a “done deal” and that his country didn’t need anybody’s permission to strike deals essential for its security.
When asked about the Patriot talks, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated that there were no plans to cancel the S-400 agreement with Moscow.
“The purchase of the S-400 is to fulfill our country’s urgent and short-term security needs. We will take the necessary measures so that this system can be used independently and will not harm F-35 and NATO systems. We are continuing our contacts with US authorities who are also sensitive about this issue,” Cavusoglu said, as cited by Yeni Safak.
Last year, the US threatened India with sanctions after it signed a $5.4 billion agreement on the purchase of five Russian S-400 systems. There were also reports that Washington told New Delhi that the punishment will be avoided if India agrees to cash out on American F-16 fighter jets.