U.S. should avoid rupture with Turkey over Russian missile crisis – Washington Post

The United States must protect F-35 warplanes from the possibility that Russia could use Turkey’s deployment of Russian S-400 air defence missiles alongside the latest stealth fighter jets to crack their defences, but the U.S. administration should avoid a wider crisis with Turkey, the Washington Post said in an editorial.

U.S. officials see Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s as an unacceptable risk to NATO hardware, including the new generation of F-35s that Turkey has also ordered. The United States expelled Turkey on Wednesday from the programme to help build and fly the F-35s, after the first shipments of S-400s arrived at a Turkish airfield last week.

The rift between Turkey and the United States was "in the late stages of metastasis", the Washington Post said, but President Donald Trump “should strive to avoid a wider breakdown with Turkey," it said.

The U.S. Congress has also passed laws requiring the U.S. administration to take steps against Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are now pressuring Trump to act.

But a crisis with the United States could propel Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan further into the embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin “who would like nothing better”, the Washington Post said.

“Turkey borders Syria and Iraq, and its cooperation with the United States is vital in the region; it hosts extensive NATO infrastructure, as well as U.S. nuclear weapons. This is a knotty problem, in the late stages of metastasis, but a wider crisis should be avoided.”