Turkey will not receive Patriot system unless it returns Russian S-400 - Pentagon
(Releads with Pentagon statement on Patriot system)
The United States maintains the supply of the Patriot air defence systems to Turkey rests on the condition of returning the already purchased S-400 systems back to Russia, U.S. Defence Department spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said on Tuesday.
"Turkey is not going to receive a Patriot battery unless it returns the S-400," ABC News Pentagon reporter Elizabeth McLaughlin quoted Hoffman as telling reporters in a briefing.
Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Washington was softening its stance on the sale of Patriot defence systems after Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 missiles strained the countries’ relations, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“We made this offer to the United States on the Patriot: If you are going to give us Patriots, then do it. We can also buy Patriots from you,” Erdoğan told reporters on a return flight from Brussels.
“They also softened significantly on this S-400 issue. They are now at the point of asking us to promise them we won’t turn them on,” he said.
In February, Turkey requested that the United States send two Patriot batteries to its southern border to deter any future attacks by Syrian troops.
In an apparent response to Erdoğan's remarks, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, said on Tuesday Ankara should clarify its stance on the purchase of the S-400s, which are scheduled to become fully operational in April.
"S-400s are not suitable since Turkey is a NATO member, this could cause problems regarding F-35s," Satterfield said.
Turkey’s decision to acquire the S-400 has soured its relations with the United States, which halted the delivery of 100 F-35 fighter jets to Turkey and suspended Turkey’s participation to the F-35 production programme after the Russian defence system arrived in Turkey in July. The United States maintains the S-400s are incompatible with NATO's defence systems and could allow Russia access to sensitive data through subterfuge.
Turkey also risks sanctions that can be imposed under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a move that has bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.