Russia and Turkey broker ceasefire in Syria's Idlib - Russian report

Nellie Chapman
June 14, 2019

Turkey has already bought the Russian S-400 missile defence systems, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, stressing that it is a done deal. The move would also see Turkey locked out of receiving the next generation of F-35 stealth fighter jets from the US. The U.S. has threatened to stop selling F-35 fighter jets to Turkey in response to the sale, and it is possible that Turkey could be subject to sanctions for having purchased Russian military equipment.

United States acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said last week he had sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar informing him of Washington's decision to pull Turkey out of the F-35 programme.

But Mr Erdogan said Turkey would hold to account anyone who excluded Turkey from the F-35 programme.

Geopolitical experts note that the past year has been significant for Turkey's relationship with Russian Federation because the ongoing war in Syria has forced the two sides to cooperate.

Erdogan has resisted US pressure to back out of the Russian purchase, saying it is a done deal and has dismissed suggestions it is a threat to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation systems.

Turkey plans to buy 100 F-35s.

The wider issue behind the S-400 purchase is the realisation in Ankara that Turkey's interests do not align with the US's as they once did.

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It appears that Mr Erdogan is hoping to avoid the damaging repercussions of the Russian agreement by appealing to US President Donald Trump personally, first by telephone and later with a meeting at the G20 summit in Japan in two weeks.

Turkey and the United States have sparred publicly for months over Ankara's order for the S-400s, which are not compatible with NATO's systems.

Training for Turkish pilots on flying the F-35, the development of which Ankara has contributed US$1b to since 2002, was halted this week over the S-400 controversy.

He said: "Turkey won't reverse its decision with such letters". Turkey has contacted Russian Federation, which signed a deal last September to jointly monitor the ceasefire in Idlib. Ankara has proposed that the two allies form a working group to assess the impact but says it has yet to hear back from Washington.

"We have so far paid $1.250 million", he said.

Russian Federation said on Tuesday it planned to deliver its S-400s to Turkey in July, setting the clock ticking on the US sanctions threat.

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