Russia has condemned an alleged US ultimatum to Turkey designed to force it to cancel a deal to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and purchase American Patriot batteries instead, calling it “unacceptable”.
Moscow on Wednesday was responding to a report by CNBC that said Washington had given Turkey two weeks to scrap the Russian arms deal and do one with the United States instead or risk severe penalties.
Turkey’s push to buy the S-400s has further strained the already tense relations with the US, which has repeatedly warned Ankara of the risks, including sanctions, if it goes ahead with the purchase.
Turkey and the US have been at odds on several fronts, including Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400s, which cannot be integrated into NATO systems. Washington says the Russian deal, if it goes ahead, would jeopardise Turkey’s role in building and buying Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.
“We regard this extremely negatively,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked about the CNBC report by reporters.
“We consider such ultimatums to be unacceptable and we are going on the many statements made by representatives of Turkey’s leadership – headed by President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan – that the S-400 deal is already complete and will be implemented.”
Turkey’s defence minister said earlier on Wednesday that Ankara was preparing for potential US sanctions over its purchase of the Russian missile system, even though he said there was some improvement in talks with Washington over proposals to manufacture and purchase the American F-35 fighter jets.
“There is absolutely no question of [Turkey] taking a step back from the S-400 purchase. That is a done deal,” Erdogan said.
He also said Turkey and Russia would jointly produce S-500 defence systems after Ankara’s controversial purchase of the S-400s from Moscow.