Turkey will start getting S-400 Russian anti-missile systems within two months amid escalating dispute between Ankara and Washington over the purchase of Russian anti-missile system.
“We will begin delivery of the S-400s to Turkey within two months,” Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov announced on Friday (June 7) during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). He noted that the agreement was already entering the final stages, and that Turkey had made all of the payments on time.
Chemezov was also quoted by RT as saying that Russia had already finished training Turkish specialists to operate the advanced long-range surface-to-air missile system, a sign that the deal is close to completion, despite Washington’s strong opposition.
Tensions have been high between Turkey and the US as the NATO allies diverged over the arms sale. Having made every effort to block the deal, the US has reportedly now even decided to stop accepting new Turkish pilots for its F-35 training program, Reuters reported, citing officials.
Last week, the US warned that the purchase might have “devastating” consequences, both for the F-35 training program, and for Turkey’s future in the NATO.
Citing officials, Reuters news agency has reported that the US has decided to stop accepting new pilots as part of the training program with Turkey. Currently, four pilots and 47 personnel are undergoing training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where they are taught how to maintain and steer the fifth-generation jets.
It was reported last week that the US was “seriously considering” suspending all training for the Turkish servicemen as Ankara sticks to its $2.5-billion deal with Moscow, paying little heed to Washington’s ultimatums.
Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said last week that the US would prefer to settle the differences between the “strategic partners” through negotiations, rather than just send its pilots back in a tit-for-tat response.
Turkey offered to create a working group with the US to try to reach a compromise, but Washington has made it clear it wants Ankara to buy American Patriot systems instead of Russian systems. Turkey has insisted it’s choosing what is better for its national defense, and the US’ ‘consolation’ offer is no match for the Russian one.
Ankara has said time and again that the S-400 purchase is a done deal, and has not relented in the face of American threats to exclude it from the F-35 program, which has already cost Turkey over $1 billion. The deal between Russia and Turkey was struck in 2017, and the first battery may be delivered as early as this summer.
Washington argues that the S-400 systems pose a security threat to NATO infrastructure and its interoperability with Turkey. Moreover, they will supposedly compromise the security of the F-35s should Turkey get its hands on the jets.
Turkey says no turning back on missile deal with Russia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country would not step back from an S-400 missile deal with Russia – again defying US threats.
“There is an agreement. We have determination. It is out of the question to take a step back from it,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul on Tuesday (June 4). He also said an offer from the United States to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey was not as good as the Russian offer.
Turkey plans to buy 100 US F-35s and some Turkish pilots have already started training with counterparts in the United States.
Erdogan said on Tuesday he told Washington that Ankara would take steps to buy the Patriots only if its conditions of delivery were as positive as Russia’s. “But unfortunately we haven’t received a positive proposal from the American side on the subject of Patriots like the S400s from Russia,” he said.
The US has threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey if it goes through with the purchase of the Russian missile system, a move that would further damage Turkey’s economy.
Turkey’s currency the lira has declined about 14 percent this year in part because of concerns over the potential US sanctions. In addition to the issue of the S-400, Turkish-US ties are already under strain over American support for a Syrian Kurdish militia in Syria – viewed as “terrorists” by Ankara.
US wants India to swap Russian S-400s for THAAD & Patriots
Turkey is not the only state that faces retaliation from Washington for military shopping in Russia. India also had to fight off American threats of sanctions for purchasing an advanced surface-to-air missile system from Moscow last year.
Moscow and New Delhi sealed a $5 billion S-400 accord in 2015. Since then, the US has been pressing India to buy American equipment instead, offering Patriot and THAAD missiles as an alternative.
“The S-400 [deal] is significant because of CAATSA sanctions. It’s also significant because of what it precludes, in terms of future high-tech cooperation,” an anonymous senior State Department official is reported as saying by the Times of India.
The official added, that Washington is strongly against mixing their systems with foreign ones, saying “there are threats posed by the purchase of an S-400.” That’s why India has to choose where “its military relations [are] headed” and “with who it [is] going to share the highest technology and that operating environment”.
Despite the pressure, New Delhi has remained defiant and made a clear point that it would stick to the deal. The Indian Army’s Chief General Bipin Rawat previously confirmed that the deal would proceed and insisted his country won’t be told what to do as it “follows an independent policy”.
India and Russia have a long history of arms trading, with Moscow being New Delhi’s biggest weapons importer. Now the US, which is number 2, apparently wants to change that.
Washington constantly threatens India with retaliation under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) issued by the US Congress to block arms purchases from Russia.
“I don’t think it’s going to work,” Sreeram Chaulia, professor at India’s Jindal School of International Affairs, told RT.
India has decided long ago that the S-400, a successor to the time-proven S-300 family, “is the best available option” for the emerging power. He believed that the THAAD and Patriots have been offered to India in the past don’t meet “the full spectrum of the defense needs that we have.”
US companies may offer any weapons systems to customers all around the world, but they are wary of doing technology transfer, Chaulia explained.