The United States is crossing the line over comments regarding Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 missile defence systems from Russia, warned Ömer Çelik, a spokesman for the governing Justice and Development (AK) Party.
During a news conference, Çelik said that Ankara decided to proceed with the acquisition of the Russian-made defence system after Washington failed to respond to Turkey’s request for the Patriot missile system amid the Syrian crisis.
“NATO allies should have supported Turkey, whose air space became vulnerable”, Çelik said, adding that the country was left with no other choice but to buy the S-400s.
At the same time, he emphasised that the US did not oppose the purchase of Russian-made missile systems by other NATO members in the past.
“Why do they accept Greece having the S-300 system?” Çelik added, pointing out the double standard used against Turkey.
The comments came on the heels of remarks by Pentagon spokesperson Charlie Summers, who warned Turkey against buying the S-400s.
“If Turkey takes the S-400, there would be grave consequences in terms of our military relationship, and the Patriots and the F-35s. They will not get the F-35s if they take the S-400”.
Shortly after, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded that the S-400s “are not connected to the security of NATO, the United States or the F-35 in any way”.
He also voiced hope that the issues in US-Turkey relations could be “resolved in the same way as it has on other issues”.
In the meantime, Bloomberg reported last week that Turkey had rejected the US’ $3.5 billion offer on the Patriot PAC-3 air defence systems in favour of the S-400s. The Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a potential deal last December.
Washington has on a multitude of occasions threatened to introduce sanctions against Ankara under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a 2017 law drafted in response to Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US election, if Turkey purchased S-400s.
The Pentagon has been concerned by the possibility of Ankara acquiring Russian air defence systems along with F-35s, allegedly providing Russian experts with key insights into the radar’s cross sections, flight profile and other sensitive data related to the jet’s technology.