With the S-400 missile defense system’s delivery around the corner, tensions are escalating between Turkey and the United States. The Turks are committed to buying the Russian system despite Washington’s threats. The Pentagon’s most recent letter to Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, which included a long list of threats, did not change Ankara’s mind either. Addressing the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) parliamentary caucus on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took his earlier statements to the next level: “I am not saying that Turkey will buy the S-400 defense system. It already has. We have concluded [the deal]. We signed a reasonably priced contract and secured a promise of joint production. God willing, [the S-400] will be delivered to our country next month.”
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu added on Friday that “we have counter-measures to respond to potential U.S. sanctions,” warning that “NATO protects merely 30 percent of Turkey’s airspace.” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews responded with a curious statement, stressing that the U.S. values its relationship with Turkey, its strategic partner, and noting that the relationship was not limited to the F-35 program.
How can we account for this statement, which was not in line with the Pentagon’s incessant threats? Could things get better soon? Did Andrews make a gesture of goodwill before Erdoğan’s upcoming meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Japan?
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