Turkey is working on a set of counter-measures against impending US sanctions over the acquisition of the Russian-built S-400 air defence systems under orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bloomberg reported, citing a senior Turkish official.
The insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, was quoted as saying that Ankara is currently analysing products imported from and exported to the United States as part of its potential retaliation.
According to the media outlet, referring to the Anadolu Agency, these comments echoed remarks by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said on Friday that Turkey was ready to bear any consequences of its decision to defend its sovereign rights and would retaliate if the United States imposes sanctions.
“We’re already working on measures under the leadership of our president. There is no understanding such as ‘let’s sit silent and shut up’ in the face of US decisions. If the US takes negative steps towards us, then we will have to take them as well. We will maintain our determination to be an independent and free country”, he said.
These remarks come shortly after Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin condemned a letter by US Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar that reportedly contains threats to exclude Ankara from the F-35 pilot training programme over the S-400 deal.
"This letter contradicts the spirit of allied relations. Simultaneously with the sending of the letter, its content was disclosed to media. This is unacceptable for serious state affairs... Everyone must be sure that we will respond. The presidents of Turkey and the United States will discuss the issue of our F-35 trainees at a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan on 29 June", Kalin said.
The United States has, on a multitude of occasions, expressed concern the S-400s are incompatible with NATO military equipment and claimed that the Russian air defence systems pose a threat to the F-35s, since the simultaneous procurement would allegedly give Russian experts key insights into confidential data related to the fighter jet's technology.
Washington has as well threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and kick Ankara out of the F-35 fighter jet programme if the Turkish government does not abandon the Russian missile defence systems.
Ankara, in turn, has insisted that the purchase of those weapons is its sovereign affair and has excluded the possibility of abandoning plans to complete the purchase. The Turkish side has also emphasised that the S-400s were not connected to the security of the alliance, the US or the F-35 in any way, and the decision to acquire them “does not target a third country”.
Despite US threats to introduce sanctions or remove Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme, President Erdogan remains unfazed, saying earlier this week that the first battery of Russia-made S-400s will be delivered to Turkey in July – as scheduled.
Russia and Turkey signed a $2.5 billion loan agreement for the shipment of a total of four batteries of S-400 systems in December 2017.