ISTANBUL – Turkey is threatening to go ahead with Russian military purchases despite warnings from Washington. The threat comes as the impasse between the NATO members deepens over Ankara’s purchase of a Russian missile system.
With Washington stepping up its pressure on Ankara to reverse its purchase of the Russian S 400 missile defense systems, Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar this month defended its intentions, dismissing American concerns.
This is not an offensive system, Akar said, adding, this system can’t threaten anyone in any way where it is deployed. It is not a risk, threat, or danger to anyone, the official said.
Washington says the S 400 missiles advanced radar poses a threat to NATO defense systems and calls for its removal.
But Ankara has said it is considering purchasing more batches of the Russian missiles. One source close to the government says Turkey has already struck a deal with Moscow.
Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Turkey could face sanctions if it bought other Russian weaponry, including additional S 400 missile systems.
Concerns over the S 400 have already resulted in Washington’s blocking Turkey from modernizing its aging combat aircraft with America’s advanced F-35. But Turkish presidential advisor Mesut Casin warns Washington is forcing Turkey only further to deepen its military ties with Russia.
“We need 200 combat aircraft. This is the reality on the table, but the US don’t give the combat aircraft. And so you (the US) pressure (Turkey) to buy the Russian combat aircraft; we don’t want to buy it,” said Casin. “But if the US don’t give the combat aircraft, we can buy the Russian combat aircraft, because we need the combat aircraft.”
Analysts predict Ankara will not make any new Russian weapon purchases until a planned meeting between the Turkish and American presidents on the sidelines of next month’s NATO Summit.
Ilham Uzgel, an international relations analyst who writes for the Duvar News portal says say the Russian missile purchase is holding US Turkish relations hostage.
It’s standing there as a stumbling block, and I doubt they cannot do anything else,” said Uzgel. “It’s kind of a precondition that the US imposes on Turkey, and I haven’t seen any other period that Turkey has cornered itself to that extent.
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusolgu said Washington should get over its objections, standing firm that Turkey would not reverse its Russian missile purchase.
But some analysts predict that Ankara could yet be willing to make a deal if Washington offers concessions.