Pence warns Turkey against buying Russian air defense system

Pence warns Turkey against buying Russian air defense system

Pence warns Turkey against buying Russian air defense system

The meeting between the two diplomats comes as the U.S. suspended it's delivery of the F-35 jet after Turkey's decision to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile system.

Turkey will not turn back from a major arms deal with Russian Federation despite the United States suspension of Ankara from the F-35 fighter-jet programme, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

On Monday, the Pentagon said it had suspended the delivery of equipment related to the stealthy F-35 fighter jet "pending an unequivocal Turkish decision to forgo delivery of the S-400".

Mr Pence said that the country could also be expelled from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft programme, parts of which are made in Turkey, after the U.S. halted deliveries of components this week.

Hours before foreign ministers from the 29-member Western alliance opened talks in Washington, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a stinging rebuke both to Germany over its level of defense spending and to Turkey for buying a major arms system from Russian Federation.

Yet even as the Trump administration has kept the option open for Turkey to buy the Patriot system, Ankara appears to be bucking the offer.

Markedly, in a repeat of Pence's speech in February during the Munich Security Conference during which attendees refused to applaud Pence's mention of President Trump, there was a marked silence after Pence said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had been reinvigorated by "the resolute American leadership of President Donald Trump". Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

Pence's stark warning comes as Washington and Ankara remain at loggerheads over Turkey's plan to buy the air defense system from Russian Federation, which Washington believes would compromise the security of its F-35 fighter jets, made by Lockheed Martin.

While US lawmakers have threatened in the past to block the delivery of the fighter jets to Turkey, the decision this week was the first concrete move from the Pentagon to do so.

Last week, Sens. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland.; and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., introduced legislation over concern Turkey's planned S-400 purchase would pose a risk to USA national security.

"It is simply unacceptable for Europe's largest economy to continue to ignore the threat of Russian aggression and neglect its own self-defense and our common defense", he said. The United States has done all of that and more - well more than our fair share.

"It is time to stop bringing back the 'Eastern threat.' In the interest of peace, the world needs a de-escalation of military and political tensions", the foreign ministry said.

Cavusoglu said it was "unacceptable" for the USA to insist Turkey could not buy a defence system from another country but would not sell any to Ankara either.

During a visit to the air base, Turkey's two F-35s were visible, each with a Turkish flag painted on its tail.

The Turkish military completed preparations for a cross border operation to the region east of the Euphrates River to clear PKK-affiliated terrorists, which have been posing a national security threat for Ankara, out of northern Syria.

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