Mar 27 2018

Turkish official casts doubt on Russian missile defence purchase

A retired Turkish ambassador who headed a Turkish parliamentary delegation to the U.S. Congress has suggested that Turkey may be having second thoughts on the purchase of a missile defence system from Russia, secular newspaper Hürriyet said.

Volkan Bozkır told the newspaper that there was a tendency within Congress that wanted to link the purchase of the Russian S-400 missiles to the joint production of the F-35 fighter planes with the United States and cancel the latter deal.

“The agreement (to buy the S-400s) has been signed, but we will see if Patriot (missiles from the United States) can step in (instead),” Bozkır said.

“It isn’t a threat, but they are doing this with the psychology of showing they have a stick beneath their cloak.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had indicated that a U.S. delegation was coming to make Turkey an offer on the sale of Patriot missiles this week, Bozkır said, and Turkey would consider it according to how generous it was, whether there was technology transfer involved and whether Congress would pass it.

U.S. officials have warned that Turkey’s possible use of the S-400 missile system risked leaking crucial data to Russia on NATO weapons systems, and that the purchase could possibly expose Ankara to sanctions.