Turkey does not expect US sanctions over S-400 deal with Russia, Erdoğan says

DAILY SABAH WITH WIRES
ISTANBUL
Published 20.06.2019 15:13
Updated 20.06.2019 17:48
Turkey does not expect US sanctions over S-400 deal with Russia, Erdoğan says

President Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday said he did not expect the U.S. to impose sanctions on Turkey over its planned purchase of S-400 Russian missile defense systems and repeated that it was a "done deal."

Speaking at a news conference for foreign media in Istanbul, Erdoğan said the U.S. should think very carefully before imposing sanctions on Turkey, a NATO member, and if it went ahead with sanctions, Ankara was going to retaliate.

"I say this very openly and sincerely, our relations with (President Donald) Trump are at a place that I can call really good... In the event of any issues, we immediately work the phones," the president said.

Turkey has been at loggerheads with the United States for months over Ankara's planned purchase of the Russian missile defense system. Washington warned Turkey it would be excluded from the F-35 fighter jet program and could face sanctions unless it scraps the plan to buy the Russian S-400s.

"I do not see any possibility of these sanctions happening," Erdoğan said. But he said Turkey would not remain silent if they were imposed. "The U.S. has to think about this very carefully. We will have sanctions of our own."

Erdoğan reiterated that the deal with Russia was sealed and there would be no turning back, adding that the country expects to take delivery of S-400s in the first half of July.

The president also noted that he enjoyed good relations with President Trump but that Turkey's ties with people who worked below him were "very, very different" and that teams on both sides often disagreed on a number of issues, including the S-400s.

Erdoğan, scheduled to meet Trump during a G20 meeting in Japan next week, said he would discuss the issue of sanctions with him. He added that the U.S. wouldn't want to lose an ally like Turkey.

Turkey decided in 2017 to purchase the S-400 system following protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the U.S. with no success.

However, U.S. officials have advised Turkey to buy the Patriot missile system rather than the S-400 system from Moscow, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge.

Turkey has responded that it was the U.S.' refusal to sell Patriots that led it to seek other sellers, adding Russia offered a better deal, including technology transfers.


President Erdoğan yesterday denied that Washington offered Turkey a "good" deal that would allow it to purchase U.S. Patriot systems instead.

Turkey has emphasized that the S-400s would not be integrated into NATO operability and would not pose a threat to the alliance. It has also repeatedly said it was ready to discuss Washington's concerns. It proposed forming a joint working group with Washington to assess whether the S-400s would pose a threat to NATO; however, the U.S. has not taken any steps to form the technical team.

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