The US has shocked Ankara by declaring that Turkey must return S-400 systems back to Russia if it is keen to procure Patriot air defence systems. This was stated by the U.S. Defence Department spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman.
“Turkey is not going to receive a Patriot battery unless it returns the S-400,” ABC News Pentagon reporter Elizabeth McLaughlin quoted Hoffman as telling reporters in a briefing.
Earlier, as the EurAsian Times had reported, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had stated that Trump administration was softening its stance on the sale of Patriot defence systems to Ankara as long as Turkey did not activate the S-400 batteries.
“We made this offer to the United States on the Patriot: If you are going to give us Patriots, then do it. We can also buy Patriots from you,” Erdoğan told reporters on a return flight from Brussels. “They also softened significantly on this S-400 issue. They are now at the point of asking us to promise them we won’t turn them on,” he said.
In an obvious answer to Erdoğan’s remarks, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, said on Tuesday Ankara should clarify its stance on the purchase of the S-400s, which are scheduled to become fully operational in April. “S-400s are not suitable since Turkey is a NATO member, this could cause compatibility differences with the F-35s,” Satterfield said.
Turkey’s determination to procure Russian S-400 batteries derailed its ties with the United States, which paused the delivery of 100 F-35 fighter jets to Turkey and suspended its participation to the F-35 production programme. The United States maintains the S-400s are incompatible with NATO’s defence systems and could allow Russia access to sensitive data through subterfuge.