Apr 09 2019

Turkey will be sanctioned if it buys Russian missiles - U.S. congressmen

The choice made by Turkey between having either F-35 advanced fighter aircraft or a Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defence system on its soil by the end of the year will have profound consequences for its place in the world, its relationship with the United States and its standing in NATO, according to a group of leading U.S. senators.

If Ankara opts for the delivery of a Russian S-400 missile system, which Russia built to shoot down the F-35s, it will be sanctioned as required by American law, Republican Senator from Oklahoma Jim Inhofe, Jack Reed, who is a Democrat from Rhode Island, Republican Senator from Idaho Jim Risch and Bob Menendez, who represents New Jersey, said in the New York Times.

While pointing out that Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 “would create an unacceptable risk because its radar system could enable the Russian military to figure out how the F-35 operates,” the article noted that it is this threat that has compelled the Pentagon to suspend some activities associated with Turkey’s F-35s last week.

Turkey has since 2012 rejected the offer by the United States of the Patriot air defence system as an alternative to the S-400, it said.

However, with the planned July arrival of the S-400 and the November date for the F-35s, the time has come for the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to make a choice.

If Turkey’s strongman accepts delivery of the S-400, Turkey will be sanctioned and the measures will hit Turkey’s economy by “rattling international markets, scaring away foreign direct investment and crippling Turkey’s aerospace and defence industry,”  the New York Times article said.

On the other hand, Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme, while taking Turkish companies out of the manufacturing and supply chain for the programme will squander the more than $1.25 billion the country has already invested.

Turkey “will be forced to settle for a less-capable fighter aircraft that will not arrive for many years,” it added.

While Ankara’s relationship with Moscow may be one of necessity, the New York Times article said, if Erdoğan walks away from the S-400, Russian President Vladimir Putin may retaliate.

Putin’s aggression in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria has made Turkey less safe, it said, while the Russian president is trying to divide Turkey from the West with the S-400s.

A Turkey strategically anchored in the West and committed to NATO is feared and respected by Putin, and Erdoğan will choose that future for Turkey by rejecting Moscow’s “divisive S-400 ploy,” meeting its air defence requirement with the Patriot system and moving forward as a partner in the F-35 programme, the article concluded.