U.S. Senator questions Turkey's commitment to NATO over S-400 missile purchase
A U.S. Senator has called on President Donald Trump to cancel the sale of F-35 fighter planes to Turkey if the latter maintains the S-400 anti-aircraft system purchase deal with Russia.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen on Saturday said on Twitter that the United States should not allow Turkey to jeopardise the safety of the U.S. pilots and the security of NATO by using F-35 jets and S-400 missile systems at the same time. The senator also questioned Ankara’s commitment for remaining in NATO.
The tweet has come a day after Turkey rejected a U.S. offer to be given the Patriot anti-aircraft system on favourable terms if it abandoned plans to purchase the S-400 missile systems.
Turkish and U.S. delegations have been negotiating Washington’s offer to sell Patriot batteries to Ankara, but Turkish Interior Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Saturday said that Turkey bought Russian made S-400 missile system, as it could not buy a similar one from its Western allies.
The U.S. Senator has repeatedly urged the U.S. Congress on the matter. In January, Van Hollen said Ankara had to make a choice between the U.S. made F-35 fighter jets and Russian S-400 missile systems. According to the senator, Turkey will violate August 2018 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if it buys the Russian system, and as a result, Ankara will be subject to U.S.sanctions.
Turkey signed a contract worth a reported $2.5 billion in December 2017 for the purchase of the S-400 defence missiles ignoring objections from its NATO allies.
Despite the dispute over the delivery of F-35 fighter jets, the U.S. State Department last month approved the sale of a $3.5 billion Patriot missile defence system to Turkey.
Turkish officials have repeatedly stated that Ankara would proceed to buy Russian missile systems, while, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year said that cooperation with Russia could be extended in the future.