Turkish officials have told the daily Hurriyet newspaper that Turkey’s stance on the S-400 missile defence deal with Russia remains unchanged, with the remarks being made in response to a question about US acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan’s letter to Turkey which threatened the country could be removed from the US’ F-35 training programme.
According to the anonymous sources cited in the report, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already said that the delivery of S-400s from Moscow was a “done deal” and there is no way back.
The same sources added that “some of the US institutions do not want to take into consideration” the issues that Erdogan and Donald Trump had previously agreed on as part of their bilateral talks.
They also assumed that Turkey’s suggestion of establishing a joint commission with the United States to examine the S-400 issue was still relevant.
On 7 June, Shanahan sent a letter to the Turkish Defence Ministry setting the 31 July deadline for all Turkish pilots to in the F-35 fighter jet programme to leave the US, along with halting further training altogether.
“This training will not occur because we are suspending Turkey from the F-35 program; there are no longer requirements to gain proficiencies on the systems,” per an attachment to the letter titled “Unwinding Turkey’s Participation in the F-35 Program.”
Separately, Shanahan warned Ankara that its deal with Moscow risks undermining its ties with NATO, and could cripple the Turkish economy as well as creating over-dependence on Russia.
“You still have the option to change course on the S-400,” Shanahan wrote.
Washington, which had previously refused to sell Patriot missile systems to Ankara, earlier warned Turkey against using the S-400 on grounds that it would allegedly prove incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkey responded by insisting the Russian-made system would not compromise NATO operability and won’t pose a threat to the alliance, adding it had been made to search for other options in the wake of Washington’s refusal to offer Ankara its Patriot batteries.