Turkey chafes at USA pressure over Russian defences

Turkey chafes at USA pressure over Russian defences

Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighters and has warned of potential USA sanctions if Ankara presses on with the deal.

Training by Turkish pilots on F-35 fighter jets was recently stopped at a USA air base in Arizona, officials said on Monday.

Reuters on Thursday reported a USA decision to stop accepting more Turkish pilots from entering the country for training, in what had been one of the most concrete signs that the dispute over the F-35 fighters was reaching a breaking point.

It urges Turkey to cancel the S-400 purchase and calls for sanctions if it accepts their delivery, which may come as soon as July.

Speaking to reporters after an event in Ankara, Ismail Demir, head of the Turkish Defence Industries Directorate, said Turkey was ready to discuss Washington's concerns.

On Monday, Demir said Turkey responded to the latest U.S. Patriot offer and was waiting for a response, but did not elaborate further.

The U.S. resolution, introduced in May and entitled "Expressing concern for the United States-Turkey alliance", was agreed in the House on Monday.

"It is unacceptable to take decisions which do not serve to increase mutual trust, to continue to keep the language of threats and sanctions on the agenda and to set various artificial deadlines", it added.

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President Tayyip Erdogan's government faces a balancing act in its ties with the West and Russian Federation, with which it has close energy ties and is also cooperating in neighboring Syria.

"However, the other side (United States) has not taken any steps to form the technical team and discuss this".

Washington says Turkey's acquisition of Russia's S-400 air defence system poses a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 stealthy fighters, which Ankara also plans to buy.

The Trump administration has given Turkey a July deadline to make its decision over acquiring the S-400 missile system, as the USA believes the purchase poses a threat to the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, which Ankara also wants to buy. There is no middle ground.

"There is no future for Turkey having both Russian weapons and American F-35s".

Turkish officials have told daily Hürriyet that there was no change regarding Turkey's stance on an S-400 missile defense deal with Russian Federation.

Late last month, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger said that the delivery of S-400s to Turkey would be "devastating, not only to the F-35 programme", but for "Turkish interoperability with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on May 22 that Turkish military personnel were receiving training in Russia on how to use the S-400 and that Russian personnel might go to Turkey.

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