12:17 GMT10 August 2020
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    The US and Turkey have been at odds over Ankara’s decision to go on with the acquisition of Russia-made S-400 air defence systems that prompted Washington to suspend the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. Ankara, for its part, expressed interest in Russian-made aircraft as an alternative.

    If the United States refuses to sell or deliver its F-35 stealth fighter jets to Turkey or "violates bilateral agreements", Ankara will be left with no choice but to go with an "alternative option", Hassan Turan, MP from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a member of the Russia-Turkey inter-parliamentary friendship group, said.

    "Turkey is forced to purchase all types of equipment and weapons to build up its power and ensure security both from the air and land, our geographical and strategic location obliges us to do this. […] Today, the most modern and high-tech fighter jets are the American F-35 and the Russian Su-57. […] We will not leave our airspace without protection at someone's whim", he added.

    The lawmaker continued by saying that Turkey needed to ensure its security first and foremost, stressing that it "needs to update technology and weapons in its arsenal if it seeks to ensure the security of its airspace independently".

    His comments came just days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that Ankara might be forced to look at alternative options and Russia's Su-35 or Su-57 jets could be among them.

    During a visit to Russia's Maks 2019 Air Show in Moscow region on 27 August, Erdogan saw Russia's fifth-generation Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter jets in action, and the Turkish president expressed interest in them. 

    Safe Zone in Syria

    Turan then addressed the agreement reached between the US and Turkey on a "safe zone" along the Syrian-Turkish border that would serve as a buffer between the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, which leads the Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against Daesh*.

    "Turkey is not a country that can be fooled in an attempt to gain time. We have had a bad experience in negotiating with the American side, and we are determined to put an end to the terrorist elements in the region, with or without the United States. [...] They must stop supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its affiliates, and must take back all the weapons and equipment that they supplied to them. If this is not done, Turkey will take the necessary steps," he explained.

    Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group and an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has been fighting to establish a Kurdish autonomous region in southeast Turkey, since the early 1980s.

    President Erdogan said on Saturday that Ankara would not tolerate any delays in establishing a "safe zone" in Syria and would launch its own operation in northern Syria if negotiations with Washington don't bring any results.

    "We do not have much time or patience regarding the safe zone which will be established along our entire border east of the Euphrates," Erdogan said.

    Ankara has said that the joint operation centre in Turkey, set up last month to coordinate and manage a planned safe zone, is fully operational. But the two sides remain at odds over the specifics of the forces structure.

    Relations between Turkey and the US are strained over several issues, including Ankara's decision to purchase Russia's S-400 air defence systems. Turkey stated receiving the second shipment of S-400 batteries last week, and the delivery process will take around one month, according to Turkish officials.

    Washington has repeatedly claimed that the S-400s are incompatible with NATO's military equipment, and may compromise the operations of the F-35. The US also decided to freeze the sales of the jets to Turkey. Ankara, in turn, has consistently noted that the deal with Moscow was not related to the security of NATO, the US, or the American-made fighter jets in any way.

    Su-57, Su-35, jets, F-35, S-400, USA, Turkey
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