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    F-35 Issue Plays 'Decisive Role' Amid Tensions in US-Turkey Relations - Analyst

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    The US Senate has passed a bill that allows Washington to remove Turkey from the F-35 production program over Ankara's acquisition of Russian S-400 air defense systems. In response, Turkish officials have promised to find alternatives to the F-35s and assured adamant determination to buy Russian systems.

    Turkish political analysts, questioned by Sputnik point out that Washington's true motives are far from what they officially declare. Ozdemir Akbal, an expert on foreign relations, expressed the opinion that the letter concerning the halt of F-35 shipments to Turkey sent to US Secretary of Defense Mattis could be caused by a willingness to impose sanctions against Ankara.

    "Despite Washington constantly stressing Russo-Turkish cooperation as a key source of tension with Ankara […] the root of the problem lies in US-Turkish relations themselves. The US approach to relations with Turkey has mostly turned into a tool for political sanctions," the Turkish political analyst said.

    He added that the progress reached between Washington and Ankara over the issue of Manbij doesn't mean the US won't exert political pressure against Turkey via political sanctions imposed under various pretexts. Ozdemir Akbal sees the case with F-35 as a classic example of such an approach.

    READ MORE: US Senate's Move to Block F-35 Supplies Won't Stop Turkey From Buying S-400 — PM

    Another political analyst and journalist, Ceyhun Bozkurt, claimed the F-35 shipment issue is a perplexing and complex one.

    "The political context [of the F-35 issue] plays a decisive role and is connected with a series of conflicts that emerged in relations between Ankara and Washington, such as the Kurdish issue, military actions in Syria, Gulen extradition, etc. […] In the current situation relations between the two countries are basically limited to economic ones," Bozkurt said.

    The analyst believes that the question of Ankara buying Russian air defense systems demonstrates this — Turkey wanted to acquire technology to produce missiles for such systems, but Western countries didn't support such an initiative and suggested buying them instead. That was the key reason why Ankara turned to the Russian market, Bozkurt pointed out.

    "In the terms of politics, the West is mainly concerned about the development of cooperation between Turkey and Russia in the sphere of military industry," the political analyst summed up.

    Bozkurt also slammed the US suggestion that S-400s may help Russia to acquire secret information about the new F-35 jet as untenable. He pointed out that China has a J-31 that bears a striking resemblance to the F-35 and suggested asking China where it acquired the schematics. He also recalled that Russia itself has installed numerous air defense systems in the Middle East region and could acquire data on the F-35 directly.

    READ MORE: Turkey to Use Russia's S-400 Air Defense Systems If Necessary, Erdogan Says

    US-Turkish relations have been spiraling downward amid Ankara's concerns over the US' support for the YPG, allegedly affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization in Turkey. Ankara has repeatedly accused Washington of failing to fulfill its promises regarding the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij after Daesh* was defeated there in June 2016.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organization banned in Russia

    The views and opinions expressed are those of the commentator and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Is Turkey at a Crossroads Between US F-35 and Russian S-400?
    Turkey Shrugs Off US Attempts to Link S-400 Deal With Russia to F-35 Supplies
    Turkish Defense Minister: S-400 Deal Will Not Affect Talks on F-35 Deliveries
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    threats, opinion, US-Turkey relations, sanctions, S-400, F-35, Russia, Turkey, United States
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