23:56 GMT21 June 2021
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    The White House said Wednesday that Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence systems had made it impossible to keep Ankara in the F-35 fighter jet program. The Pentagon subsequently said it was working to unwind its relationship with Turkey in the F-35 program.

    Russia and Turkey, the United States' NATO ally signed a deal on the purchase of the S-400 systems in late 2017. The deliveries started earlier in July. the United States and NATO have repeatedly voiced concerns about the deal. In particular, Washington has argued that the Russian systems would compromise the compatibility with NATO's air and missile defence systems. Still, Turkey maintains that it would not abandon the deal. 

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that none of the bloc's members have raised an issue of Ankara's exclusion from the alliance over the S-400 systems, adding that Russian systems would not be integrated into NATO's air defence systems.

    "Turkey is an important NATO member and no ally has raised that issue at all because we all see that we are dependent on each other", Stoltenberg said during the Aspen Security Forum in the United States' city of Aspen on Wednesday, when asked if any NATO state had wanted Turkey to be removed from the alliance over its S-400 purchases that could allegedly open a way for espionage activities against them.

    Meanwhile, Ankara has slammed the United States' move to unwind Ankara’s involvement in the F-35 fighter jet international program over its imports of Russian S-400 missile systems warning that such a unilateral step might bring irreparable damage to bilateral relations.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry has called on the United States "to abandon this mistake which might cause the irreparable damage to our strategic relations".

    The ministry also noted that claims that S-400 threatened F-35 jets were groundless.

    "Turkey's suggestion to create a task force together with NATO on this issue, which has remained unanswered, is the most obvious sign of prejudice from the United States and its unwillingness to settle this issue in good faith", the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    According to media reports, the United States has already decided on implementing sanctions against Turkey over the procurement of the S-400 systems, and the measures are reportedly to be announced later this month.


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    Jens Stoltenberg, exclusion, S-400, Turkey, NATO
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