Apr 16 2019

Turkey seeks Trump support for S-400 deal

Turkish officials are appealing to U.S. President Donald Trump regarding their purchase of a Russian air-defence system, a last-minute attempt to defuse increasing tensions between the NATO allies, Bloomberg reported.

“We delivered our message and received quite positive feedback,” Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Monday, after meeting the president and making Turkey’s case.

U.S. officials say Turkey’s use of the Russian S-400 system alongside U.S.-made F-35 jets would create an unacceptable risk as its radar could enable the Russian military to gain insight into F-35 operations.

Turkey needs the missiles to defend its people, according to Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, pointing to Istanbul, the country’s commercial centre, and its capital Ankara.

"Threats, ultimatums, and deadlines do not help and they are not in line with the alliance's spirit," Akar said on Monday at a conference on American-Turkish relations in Washington.

Turkish officials have repeatedly said the S400 agreement with Russia is a done deal, despite U.S. objections. The Pentagon has suspended some activities associated with Turkey’s F-35 programme and led U.S. Senators last week to introduce a bill that would sanction Turkey if it completes the S-400 purchase.

“The warning risked intensifying market turmoil, echoing the reaction to a diplomatic standoff last year,” said Bloomberg, adding that the first batch of S-400 missiles could be delivered as early as June. “President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to purchase the Russian military equipment has damaged relations between Washington and Ankara.”

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Turkey’s planned purchase of the S-400 was incompatible with the sale of F-35s, Bloomberg said.

Akar also said that future deliveries could involve technology transfer to Turkey, and sought to address U.S. concerns a day before he was scheduled to meet Shanahan, saying the S-400s would operate independently from NATO systems. “Our hope and wish is that these meetings will make it possible to find a solution to the problems,” he said.