Turkey will never bow to US sanctions over its agreement to buy Russian S-400 defence systems, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Sunday in reference to a deal that has strained ties between the NATO allies.
Washington has said the S-400s could compromise the capabilities of its F-35 fighter jets – for which it has a separate deal with Turkey – and warned of possible US sanctions if Ankara pushed on with the Russian deal.
Ankara has said the S-400s and F-35s would not affect each other and that it will not abandon the former.
Speaking in an interview with broadcaster Kanal 7, Oktay said United States concerns on the issue were not reasonable and added that Turkey would not back down.
Oktay’s comments come after Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan warned Friday that the Pentagon will halt manufacturing support for the F-35 in Turkey if Ankara buys a Russian missile defence system.
“If Turkey decides that the S-400 is a decision they want to go forward with, then we have to move work out of Turkey,” he said.
Shanahan noted that he had met delegations from US aerospace manufacturers Lockheed Martin and United Technologies to discuss options if Turkey refuses to forego the S-400.
As a member of NATO, Turkey is taking part in the production of the fighter jet for use by members of the treaty and has plans to buy 100 of the jets itself.
A number of Turkish manufacturers are making parts and equipment for the F-35, including internally carried Standoff Missiles, airframe assemblies and wiring, leaving the NATO programme partially dependent on them.
Washington has placed a freeze on the joint manufacturing operations with Turkey and has suggested that Turkey might be able to obtain a US missile defence system if it forgoes the one on offer from Moscow.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted he will buy the Russian system.