Just days after President Erdogan insulted the White House by snubbing National Security Advisor John Bolton, Turkey has delivered its latest middle finger to the US by refusing to abandon its agreement to buy S-400 air defense systems from Moscow – a precondition for buying American-made Patriot air defense systems, according to RT.
If the US ties the sales to Ankara with Turkey tearing up its existing arms deal with Moscow, Ankara will have no choice but to choose the latter, said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, adding that the deal to buy the S-400s has already been finalized.
“The S-400 deal has already been finalized. We can agree with the US on the Patriot system, but not if there will be [a condition] to abandon the S-400s,” the minister said during an interview with state TV.
Cavusoglu added that Ankara had received the proposal to buy weapon and would consider the terms – but warned against Washington attempting to meddle in Ankara’s relationship with Moscow.
The interview followed reports about the American ultimatum that circulated in Turkish media.
In a sign that relations between the US and Turkey were finally beginning to thaw (this was before Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of the 2,000 US troops from Syria), the State Department approved the sale of 80 Patriot missiles and 60 PAC-3 missile interceptors last month.
Ankara signed the deal to buy the S-400s last year, and the first batch is scheduled to be delivered later this year over vociferous objections from Washington. That came after Congress last year passed a law effectively blocking a shipment of 100 F-35 jet fighters to Turkey, which is a member of NATO along with the US.
The US similarly tried to pressure India out of buying S-400s as the transaction could potentially violate American laws on sanctions placed on Russia – though Washington proposed giving New Delhi a free pass if it also agreed to buy arms from the US.
Despite pressure from overseas, Turkey and India maintained that they can freely choose partners in the arms trade without interference from Washington or anybody else.
“We don’t need permission from anybody” to purchase the S-400s, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.