U.S. President Donald Trump made a statement over the weekend regarding Turkey’s purchase of S-Russian 400 systems that seemed to contradict members of his administration, who say that Ankara should face sanctions over it.
Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the G20 summit, after which he acknowledged the Pentagon’s concerns about Turkey’s purchase of the Russian air defense system and the incompatibility of Nato F-35 jets with it.
However, the U.S. president blamed his predecessor for refusing to sell U.S. Patriot missiles to Turkey, echoing a common complaint by Ankara. “They kept saying: no, no, no,” Trump commented. “He needed [a missile system] for defense. So, he went to Russia, he bought the S-400 because he couldn’t get it, couldn’t buy it.”
President Trump then said that Turkey was “treated very unfairly” regarding its efforts to buy Patriots, contradicting a frequent claim by his administration that Turkey wanted guarantees of joint production and development that could not be met, Financial Times writes.
Trump also maintained that the matter was complicated further by the fact that an order for 100 F-35 jets had already been placed by Ankara, saying “The problem is that [Mr. Erdogan] already bought the planes, and the planes aren’t compatible from our standpoint . . . national security wise. So, it’s a mess.”
Erdogan has said that the S-400 system will arrive in his country at the beginning of July, which the U.S. has been trying to dissuade Turkey from going forward with. The Pentagon is already making efforts to exclude Turkey from producing and buying F-35s should it not back down from the S-400 deal with Russia.
The U.S. State Department has likewise warned Ankara that it risks congressional sanctions on the Russian defense industry, a move that would certainly hurt its economy.